Israel: High Court rules Shas leader Deri cannot retain ministerial positions due to criminal history

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags: , , ,

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – In a move that raises questions about the stability of Israel’s new government, the country’s High Court ruled Wednesday that Ariyeh Deri, head of the Shas Haredi political party, cannot retain his positions as interior and health minister because of a long history of financial criminal offenses while in public service, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Ruling 10-1 in favor of petitioners challenging Deri’s appointment on constitutional grounds, the High Court acknowledged that judicial involvement in political appointments should only occur in egregious and extreme cases, JPost reports. The court noted it was entitled to intervene by applying the Reasonableness Clause, a clause that allows the court to consider whether an administrative decision is reasonable and responsible.

In 1999 Deri was convicted of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust while serving as leader of the Shas party and was sentenced to three years imprisonment. Following his release from prison, he was again appointed as Shas leader – but was arrested in 2021 for tax offenses. In the latter case, he entered a plea bargain whereby he resigned as a member of the Knesset and, his detractors say, promised not to enter into public service again.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing coalition government is dependent on the support of the Shas party to continue in power. If the PM obeys the court’s ruling and dismisses Deri from the ministerial positions, he may lose the support of the Shas party overall, and his government may collapse.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Yair Lapid has said Netanyahu will trigger a “constitutional crisis” if he ignores the court and retains Deri.

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