Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Shas chairman Aryeh Deri cannot legally serve as a minister in Israel’s government, a ruling that may lead to a major coalition crisis.
Ten judges voted to disqualify Deri, with only one judge, Yosef Elron, voting in favor of Deri being allowed to serve as minister.
The ruling is in response to petitions against Deri’s appointment to ministerial positions in the new government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu due to his conviction for tax offenses last year. Deri, who is serving as the Interior and Health Ministers, said on Monday that he won’t resign even if the court disqualifies him.
The ruling is a threat to the new government as Welfare Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) told Reshet Bet earlier on Wednesday that the Shas party will not support the government if Netanyahu dismisses Deri from his positions as a result of a Supreme Court ruling.
According to a Yisrael Hayom report on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu is not prepared to defy a Supreme Court ruling and will dismiss Deri from his positions but at the same time would use the move to garner support for his government’s plans for judicial reforms.
Following the ruling, the Shas party issued a statement: “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 voters went to the polls knowing everything about Shas chairman, Minister Aryeh Deri. The 400,000 voters, 11 seats, knew about Deri’s plea bargain and voted for Shas led by Aryeh Deri.
“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 offense to Deri, but a severe and stinging offense to all Shas voters and supporters. Wide sections of Israeli society today feel excluded by the court.
“The entire Shas movement is shocked by the arbitrary and unprecedented decision of the Supreme Court, 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.
“Shas is studying the ruling and will decide its next steps in accordance with the guidance of the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)