Shas chairman Arye Deri told the party's MKs on Wednesday evening that he "is committed to continuing the revolution that our [colleagues] started with more strength and more force. They close the door on us, so we will enter through the window. They close the window on us, so we will break in through the ceiling."
This came after the High Court ruled on Wednesday afternoon that Deri could not be appointed as minister due to his past legal infractions.
Responses from Israeli politicians
Politicians across the political spectrum reacted to the High Court's decision on Wednesday that disqualified Shas chairman MK Arye Deri from serving as a minister.
"If Deri is not fired, the government is breaking the law," opposition leader MK Yair Lapid said. "A government that does not heed the law is an illegal government. It no longer can demand citizens to abide by the law," he added.
"If Deri is not fired, Israel will find itself in an unprecedented constitutional crisis and it will no longer be a country of law," he concluded.
אם אריה דרעי לא יפוטר, ממשלת ישראל עוברת על החוק. ממשלה שאינה מצייתת לחוק, היא ממשלה לא חוקית. היא לא יכולה יותר לדרוש מהאזרחים לציית לחוק. אם אריה דרעי לא יפוטר, ישראל תקלע למשבר חוקתי חסר תקדים והיא כבר לא תהיה דמוקרטיה ולא תהיה מדינת חוק. pic.twitter.com/TXkxdZpAht— יאיר לפיד - Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) January 18, 2023
The heads of the coalition parties put out a joint statement:
"We received with shock, pain and great sorrow the ruling regarding the deputy prime minister, the minister Aryeh Deri. His outstanding capabilities and vast experience are needed in Israel in these complicated days more than ever.
"Beyond the severe personal injustice caused to Minister Deri himself, the verdict is a huge injustice to over two million citizens, the majority of the people, who voted in favor of a government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu in which Aryeh Deri will play a central and significant role.
"We will act in any legal way that is available to us and without delay, to correct the injustice and the serious damage caused to the democratic decision and to the sovereignty of the people," the coalition heads concluded.
Shas: Supreme Court threw 400,000 votes out the window
Shas responded: "The Supreme Court, which claims to take care of minorities, today threw away the voices and votes of 400,000 voters of the Shas movement, which represents the underprivileged in Israel, who went to the polls just two months ago. Shas voters went to the polls knowing everything about Shas chairman, Minister Aryeh Deri. The 400,000 voters, 11 mandates, knew about the settlement with Deri and [still] voted for Shas led by Aryeh Deri.
"Today the court actually ruled that the elections are meaningless. The court's decision is political and tainted by extreme unreasonableness.
"The scandalous disqualification of the Shas chairman from a ministerial position is not only a personal slight against Deri but a severe and stinging slightly to all Shas voters and supporters. Wide sections of Israeli society today feel excluded by the court.
"The entire Shas movement is shocked by the arbitrary and unprecedented decision of the High Court, contrary to the law and justice, and sees it as a serious violation of the right to vote and be elected, which is the lifeblood of democracy. Shas is studying the difficult decision and will decide on its next steps in accordance with the guidance of the Council of Torah Sages," the party said.
Finance Minister MK Bezalel Smotrich said, "the Left claims that democracy is in danger and that is what it looks like today. It cannot be that in a democratic state, 10 judges decide instead of the majority of Israel's citizens who will be a minister, without legal basis.
"The government will not fall. With God's help, we will continue to advance the judicial reform for all of the citizens of Israel, and the High Court's decision only shows again how necessary it is."
Labor's Michaeli: Netanyahu, Deri must respect court decision
Leader of the Labor Party MK Merav Michaeli said, "Clearly, the court's decision is difficult for many citizens. But in a democratic country, the court's decision is respected, right and left. Everyone is equal before the law.
"Netanyahu and Deri must show responsibility and respect the court's decision.
"Any other decision is a rebellion of the Israeli government, allowing anyone to break the law and not respect the decision of the courts," Michaeli said.
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir's statement
National Security Minister and Otzma Yehudit chairman MK Itamar Ben-Gvir said:
"To all those who are offering compromise and agreement – today it was made clear that the court, which is not elected, is not interested in compromise and wants unfettered rule over elected representatives. The ones who carried out a legal revolution without agreement or dialogue, are not internalizing that the people made their decision decisively in the last election."
Housing and Construction Minister and United Torah Judaism chairman Yitzchak Goldknopf said:
"Hundreds of thousands of Israelis put their trust unequivocally in Deri, and their will to see him as a minister in the government. The decision to disqualify him is another concrete example of the reasons that led to the crisis of lack of trust of the people of Israel in the legal system. United Torah Judaism will support all legislative procedures to fulfill the will of the people who chose Rabbi Aryeh Deri to represent him in the government."
The National Unity party said in a statement: "The state of Israel is a state of law and the High Court's decision should be respected. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should act accordingly, act responsibly, and prevent a dangerous constitutional crisis and the extreme rhetoric and personal attacks against the judges."
Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who is leading the judicial reforms, said:
"Today at 4:00 p.m., many citizens of Israel received an absurd message from the High Court of Justice, according to which their vote in the election two months ago was canceled.
"The ruling today tramples not just the votes of 400,000 Shas voters, but also the votes of a majority of the citizens of Israel, who knew the facts and voted for a government led by Netanyahu, with Aryeh Deri a senior partner.
"It is very unfortunate that once again the heads of the judicial system once again did not respect the people's decision, the prime minister's reasoning, or the Knesset's decision to put its confidence in the reigning government.
"I will do all that is necessary in order for this injustice which cries to the heavens that were done to Rabbi Deri, to the Shas movement and to Israeli democracy – to be fixed," Levin concluded.
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of Otzma Yehudit called on the government not to heed the ruling.
"The High Court's decision is irresponsible and affected by narrow political interest. The judges do not have the authority by law to ignore a Basic Law and trample this right-wing government and its decisions.
"I call on my partners in the government not to heed to the High Court ruling since it is illegal, and quickly push through the reform in the judicial system."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at Interior and Health Minister Arye Deri's home in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem shortly after the ruling was published. The two met for approximately half an hour, after which he said, "When my brother is in distress – I come to him."
Other ministers and MKs came to Deri's house in order to offer support, including Shas' Michael Malkieli, Haim Biton and Yoav Ben-Tzur, UTJ's Yitzhak Pindros and Meir Porush, and the Likud's Shlomo Karhi.
Shas launched a campaign on Twitter soon after the ruling, of a graphic showing a picture of a Shas voting slip and the words "the High Court disqualified my vote as well."
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.