(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Appointing Arye Deri as economy minister is borderline unreasonable in light of his past convictions on corruption charges, but he can remain a minister, the High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.
In response to a petition by nongovernmental organization the Movement for Quality Government in Israel to disqualify Deri from serving as a minister, the court decided not to intervene.
“The truth must be said. The necessary balance between opposing considerations in the matter being discussed is complex and not lacking in difficulties,” the ruling states.
“It can even be said that Deri’s appointment to a ministerial position is on the border of reasonability.
“In light of all of the considerations we examined...and in light of the prime minister’s broad discretion in such matters, we did not find grounds to intervene,” the judges added.
Deri was forced to resign in 1993 amid a corruption investigation, after five years as interior minister. In 2000, he was convicted of bribery, fraud and violation of trust, and he was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released after 22 months.
The Movement for Quality Government petitioned against Deri’s appointment as economy minister in May “in light of the severity of the crime of bribery, and in light of the destructive influence it has on the Israeli government and public service, by a person who was convicted of bribery and never took responsibility for his actions and never expressed regret for them.”
The NGO called bribery “the grandfather of all corruption,” and said in response to the ruling that someone convicted of systematically accepting bribes and working against law enforcement and the judiciary should not have a public position.
“Our movement’s stance is that the appointment is beyond the limits of reasonability,” its spokeswoman said.
The Movement for Quality Government is considering further legal steps, including asking for another discussion in court in light of the matter’s importance and its impact on governmental norms in Israel, she added.