Israeli Supreme Court orders Netanyahu to remove key Minister
The Israeli occupation Supreme Court says the Health and Interior Minister should be removed from the government over a tax evasion conviction.
The Israeli occupation's top court announced on Wednesday that a senior member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's newly formed government cannot serve as minister due to a recent tax evasion conviction.
Netanyahu returned to power last month and appointed Aryeh Deri as Health and Interior Minister, but in a 10-1 ruling, the Israeli occupation Supreme Court ruled that "the prime minister must remove Deri from his position."
According to a summary of the court's decision, Deri's appointment "could not stand" since it was "extremely unreasonable".
Deri, head of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish party Shas, who admitted last year to tax evasion, was fined $50,000 and relinquished his parliamentary seat.
At the time, the judges said Deri had created the appearance of intending to resign from politics to get a lighter sentence. He ran for office again in the November 1 election, as last month, lawmakers passed legislation that allows anyone convicted of offenses but not given a custodial sentence to serve as a minister.
Netanyahu returned to office at the head of a coalition with extreme-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. He himself is currently standing trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
Earlier, a senior member of Shas warned that if Deri is disqualified, Netanyahu understands that the existence of his government will be in jeopardy.
Israeli Channel 12 reported that Deri is considering appointing Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov as Health Minister.
Following the ruling, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu has arrived at Deri’s home in occupied Al-Quds.
On his part, opposition party leader Yair Lapid supported the High Court’s ruling against Deri, pointing out that “if Aryeh Deri isn’t fired, the government will be breaking the law.”
Commenting on the ruling, the Shas party accused in a statement the High Court of making a “political” decision that undermined the will of Shas’s 400,000 voters.
“Today, the court effectively ruled that elections are meaningless. The court’s decision is political and tainted with extreme unreasonability,” the statement read.
“The entire Shas movement is appalled by the arbitrary and unprecedented decision of the High Court of Justice, in contravention of law and justice, and sees it as a serious violation of the right to vote and to be elected,” the party said.
Similarly, Netanyahu’s Likud party said in a statement that Deri is a “central and significant” part of the government, pledging to return him to office.
Signed by all of Netanyahu’s coalition party leaders, the statement insisted that the ruling is an “injustice” to Deri and to some two million voters.
In the same context, the Israeli occupation so-called “Justice” Minister Yariv Levin described the High Court’s ruling against Deri as “absurd”, claiming that it effectively “annulled” the votes of those who elected him.
According to Levin, the decision “tramples over the votes not only of nearly 400,000 Shas voters, but also the will of the majority of Israeli citizens, who were aware of the relevant facts and voted for a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu in which Aryeh Deri would be a senior partner.”
This comes as Netanyahu's government is facing criticism over its controversial plans. On Saturday, some 20,000 illegal Israeli settlers took to the streets of "Tel Aviv" against Netanyahu's cabinet.
Earlier in the month, Israeli occupation "Justice" Minister Yariv Levin announced a controversial plan to hand more powers to lawmakers in appointing judges and overriding Supreme Court decisions.
The demonstration was the biggest since the occupation PM took office, with other rallies taking place in front of his residence in occupied Al-Quds and others in Haifa.
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