(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas leader Arye Deri is set to be approved by the cabinet as interior minister next week after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein ruled that he can serve.
Deri was convicted of bribery, fraud and breach of trust the last time he held the portfolio. He was forced to resign in 1993 during a corruption investigation, after five years as interior minister.
In 2000, he was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, but released after serving 22 months. The Shas leader asked Weinstein to rule on whether he can return to the post.
Weinstein wrote that although the appointment could harm the public’s faith in its government and it sends a “problematic message,” there is no legal reason to block Deri from being named to the post.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now interior minister, since Silvan Shalom stepped down last month. He also holds an additional four portfolios.
Two MKs who met with him over the past week said he told them he would not distribute the other portfolios until after the February 23 Likud leadership race.
Sunday at noon is the deadline to enter the race. So far, the only candidate challenging Netanyahu is a Beersheba physicist named Vladimir Herzberg, but he did not submit the 500 signatures of Likud members who support him needed to run, so it is likely that his candidacy will not be approved.
The most likely scenario is that Netanyahu will promote tourism minister Yariv Levin to economy minister and coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi to take Levin’s place as tourism minister. Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara has also demanded a promotion.
“There is no government without me,” Kara said. “This time, I will insist on my red line not being crossed. That means that if anyone gets promoted, it better be me.”
The Zionist Union began an anti-Netanyahu advertising campaign Thursday under the slogan “There is terrorism, there is no prime minister. Israel deserves security.”
At a Meretz Party convention in Jerusalem, party leader Zehava Gal-On said Netanyahu failed to provide security and lied to US president Barack Obama about supporting a Palestinian state. She called Breaking the Silence, an organization that criticizes policy behind IDF action in the West Bank, “Israel patriots.”
The crowd at the event applauded a videotaped address by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in which he thanked the activists for working for peace and a twostate solution. After former Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat insisted on an Israeli flag being removed when he addressed a convention organized by Israel’s fifth largest circulation newspaper, Haaretz, Abbas spoke with a Palestinian flag beside him to the Meretz event,