Israel’s High Court Nixes Deri Appointment Over Criminal Convictions
Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that the head of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Aryeh Deri, cannot serve as interior minister and health minister in the new government due to his corruption convictions. The ruling was supported by 10 judges, with just one opposing.
Deri last year was convicted of tax offences, fined and given a suspended sentence. In 1999, he was given a three-year jail sentence for bribery, fraud and breach of trust convictions. In order for him to be a part of the current government, the Knesset last month passed legislation – dubbed “Deri’s Law” – to change the Basic Law that banned anyone handed a suspended sentence in the last seven years from becoming a minister.
The ruling is poised to create a major headache for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who needs Shas’ 11 Knesset seats to maintain his parliamentary majority and keep his coalition intact. Shas has refused to consider Deri’s resignation, instead reportedly saying that this would be Netanyahu’s problem and not theirs.
The new government and the courts are already at loggerheads due to a planned overhaul of the independence of the judicial system, a plan that has brought tens of thousands of Israelis onto the streets in protest.
EXPLAINER: Aryeh Deri Was Sworn in as a Minister in Israel’s Gov’t but the Courts Could Change That