Arye Deri likely to replace Silvan Shalom as interior minister

Deri was forced to resign in 1993 amid a corruption investigation, after five years as interior minister; He was later convicted and served time in prison.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 21, 2015 22:27
2 minute read.
Aryeh Deri

Aryeh Deri. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Shas leader Arye Deri is expected to return to the Interior Ministry, even though he was convicted of bribery, fraud and breach of trust the last time he held the portfolio, sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

Deri was forced to resign in 1993 amid a corruption investigation, after five years as interior minister. In 2000, he was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, but he was released after 22 months.

Netanyahu hinted in a closed-door meeting of the Likud faction at the Knesset that Deri would replace Silvan Shalom, who is retiring from politics due to charges of sexual misconduct.

“There are realities in the coalition that must be taken into account,” Netanyahu told the faction. “There are different possibilities and I don’t know how it will look but I am sure the Interior portfolio will not remain with me.”

Netanyahu gave Deri the Economy portfolio when the government was formed but he stepped down last month in order to enable the passage of a controversial natural gas deal.

When Deri quit, Netanyahu vowed to compensate him with a senior portfolio.

When Deri became a minister, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which sought to disqualify the appointment. The movement’s head, Eliad Shraga, vowed Monday to return to the Court if Deri receives the Interior portfolio.

“Arye Deri cannot be allowed to return to the scene of the crime,” Shraga said Monday.

Deri did not comment about his political future Monday because his daughter got married on Monday night. There remains a possibility that Deri could reject the portfolio in favor of another amid a reshuffle of portfolios.

Several Likud ministers and MKs expressed interested in receiving promotions, including Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Culture Minister Miri Regev, and Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara.

“I think that today I find myself in a strong position as an acting minister, managing a ministry that deals with the entire Arab world and Africa,” Kara said. “I have a promise from the prime minister that I will be a minister, and I expect him to keep that promise, especially due to my experience and my loyalty.”

Kara said he was happy with his current portfolio, but he emphasized that in the tourism ministry, for example, he could promote Arab tourism.

He added that a Druse minister would also help Israeli public diplomacy.

Netanyahu praised Shalom on Monday for his decision to quit politics. At Monday’s faction meeting, Netanyahu thanked Shalom for his accomplishments in office.

“After years of public service in key positions, he is leaving under unfortunate circumstances,” Netanyahu said of Shalom, who did not come to the Knesset Monday.

Aides to Shalom came and removed his belongings from his office.

Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.


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