(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas leader Arye Deri should not be allowed to become a government minister, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel wrote in a petition filed to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday.
Shas signed a coalition deal with Likud Monday night bringing it into the government, and Deri is set to become economy minister and development of the Negev and Galilee minister.
Attorney Eliad Shraga, chairman of the NGO, said that Deri’s appointment as a minister would “dissolve the public’s trust in public institutions generally, and the executive authority in particular, and would erode the purity of the rule of law.” A move “so damaging to public confidence is not a decree the public can afford. Not now, and not ever,” he added.
Deri served as interior minister for five years until he was forced by the Supreme Court to resign in 1993 amid a corruption investigation. In 2000, he was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of bribery, fraud and violation of trust. He was released after serving 22 months.
The petition filed to the High Court said that “the name of the former interior minister is engraved with shame in the chronicles of the State of Israel as one who brought to the country a subculture of bribery characteristic of backward and corrupt regimes... until it became his way of life and led to his rise to prominence in the Interior Ministry.”
Two days after the March 17 election, the Movement for Quality Government launched an online petition calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep Deri out of the government and of public life generally. As of press time, the petition had gathered more than 50,000 signatures.
Last week, Deri agreed to drop his demand to return to the Interior Ministry where he accepted more than $150,000 in bribes.
“I don’t want to cause people to gossip and I don’t want to start my next job on the wrong foot,” he told Army Radio.
In April, an adviser to Deri issued a response to the online petition on Twitter, saying “241,200 people voted for Shas and Arye Deri; who is the ‘Movement for Quality Whiteness’ – which is disguised as the ‘Movement for Quality Government’ – to tell us what to do? Leave us alone.”