Israel: Government in legal trouble after court refuses to accept Deri as minister

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Israel’s coalition government may be dissolved after the Supreme Court ruled that Shas party leader Aryeh Deri cannot be a minister due to his criminal convictions, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. “The majority of the judges on the panel have determined that this appointment is grossly unreasonable, and therefore the Prime Minister should remove him from office,” the court said.

The ruling adds to the simmering tension between the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government and the legal community over a planned judicial reform that seeks to weaken the Supreme Court.

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According to the Times of Israelthe ruling sparked calls from the coalition to redouble pressure on legislation designed to curtail the court’s ability to rule on government or Knesset decisions. Channel 12 news said it is unclear whether Deri will resign or be fired by Netanyahu.

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, urged the government to overturn the court’s ruling. “I call on my fellow cabinet members not to comply with the Supreme Court ruling as it is illegal.”

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An earlier report claimed that Deri had told his party’s Knesset members that he would not resign. If that is the case, Netanyahu will have no legal choice but to fire his senior partner in the coalition. If the prime minister refuses to do so, it is likely to lead to further petitions to the Supreme Court demanding that Deri be fired.

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Netanyahu was indicted for corruption in 2020. His case has yet to go to court.

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