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January 18, 2023 9:51 am

Israel’s High Court of Justice Rules Aryeh Deri Can’t Serve as Interior, Health Minister

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Head of the Shas party Aryeh Deri, seen with Shas parliament members at the campaign opening event in Bat Yam on Feb. 10, 2019. Photo: Yehuda Haim/Flash90.

i24 NewsIsrael’s High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that Shas party leader Aryeh Deri – who has several convictions – can’t serve as the Jewish state’s interior or health minister.

Amid reports that the court was leaning toward opposing his nomination, Israel’s recently sworn-in government coalition, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warned that the decision would lead to serious consequences.

Immediately after the decision, the ultra-Orthodox Shas bloc responded: “The entire Shas movement is shocked by the arbitrary and unprecedented decision of the High Court of Justice, contrary to law and justice, and sees it as a serious violation of the right to choose and be elected, which is the lifeblood of democracy.”

“The Supreme Court, which claims to take care of minorities, today threw away the voices and votes of 400,000 voters of the Shas movement, which represents the underprivileged in Israel, who went to the polls just two months ago,” Shas spokesman  Asher Medina continued.

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“Today, the court actually ruled that the elections are meaningless. The court’s decision is political and tainted by extreme improbability. The scandalous disqualification of the Shas chairman from a ministerial position is not only a personal injury to Deri, but a severe and stinging injury to all Shas voters and supporters. Wide sections of Israeli society today feel excluded by the court.”

A day earlier, Shas lawmaker Avraham Bezalel said the High Court would be “shooting itself in the head” if it disqualified Deri.

“A decision against Minister Deri will constitute severe damage to the choice of hundreds of thousands of voters. If the court wants to use the ‘legal unreasonableness’ clause, the issue will be brought before the prime minister and [the clause] will be canceled. Is it not ‘reasonable’ in the eyes of the judges that 400,000 voted for Shas,” said Ya’acov Margi, another lawmaker.

One of the main arguments against Deri’s nomination is that he misled the court by pledging he would not rejoin politics when he resigned from parliament in 2021 over tax offenses.

According to media reports, Deri told his allies that regardless of the court’s decision, he would not resign. But Israel’s Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said that such a move would be “breaking the law.”

“If Aryeh Deri is not fired, the Israeli government is breaking the law. A government that does not obey the law is an illegal government. It can no longer demand that citizens obey the law. If Aryeh Deri is not fired, Israel will fall into an unprecedented constitutional crisis and will no longer be a democracy and will not be a state of law,” Lapid tweeted.

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