Netanyahu to dismiss Deri as minister in Sunday cabinet meeting - report

The High Court ruled in a 10-1 decision that Shas leader Aryeh Deri cannot serve as a minister in the government.

 ARYE DERI gives the thumbs-up sign on Wednesday outside his Har Nof home in Jerusalem.  (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/Reuters)
ARYE DERI gives the thumbs-up sign on Wednesday outside his Har Nof home in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/Reuters)

Shas chairman Arye Deri will be fired from his ministerial roles by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, following the High Court of Justice’s Thursday ruling that disqualified him from serving as a minister, Channel 12 reported on Saturday night.

According to the report, the firing was coordinated with Deri. He would officially leave office on Tuesday, having served 26 days as a minister.

Israel Hayom reported earlier in the night that Deri would attend the cabinet meeting to oversee matter regarding the "Health Basket," which the Health Ministry developed under his lead last week.

“I am proud that the additions [to the health basket] we brought this year is the largest ever,” Deri wrote on Wednesday. “These drugs will allow the weaker sectors to receive much better and much more advanced medicine."

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara made it clear to Netanyahu on Thursday that he must fire Deri immediately.

Netanyahu met with Deri on Friday night, sparking rumors about the next steps that the coalition could take.

Maariv reported that at the meeting Deri may have expressed support for the idea of becoming speaker of the Knesset, or that the two discussed the idea that Netanyahu would announce the Shas chairman’s departure at the cabinet meeting.

 ARYE DERI is escorted outside his home in Jerusalem on Wednesday. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) ARYE DERI is escorted outside his home in Jerusalem on Wednesday. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

It is not clear what will happen once Netanyahu fires Deri. While Shas is not expected to leave the government, Deri’s removal could affect its stability in the near future.

Deri took the role of minister as part of the coalition agreement, and Shas activists have questioned the future of the coalition without the deal being met.

“I must continue with greater courage the social revolution of Shas,” Deri wrote on Wednesday, following the High Court’s ruling. “For the sake of Jewish identity and concern for the weak. We will do this with strength and upright stature, with God’s help.”

Deri would remain a member of Knesset, and Shas would potentially retain the health and interior porfolios.

At protests against proposed judicial reforms in Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday night, politicians and demonstrators reiterated the call for Netanyahu to remove Deri from office.

“Mr. Prime Minister, fire Minister Arye Deri immediately. Mr. Prime Minister, remove your hand from democracy.” MK Gideon Sa’ar said at a protest in Haifa. “Seventy-five hours have passed since the ruling by the High Court, Mr. Prime Minister you are degrading the High Court of Justice.”

Why did the High Court bar Deri from being a minister?

The High Court’s dramatic ruling on Wednesday decided that Deri’s appointment as minister was “extremely unreasonable” both due to his criminal past and to the fact that he intentionally misled a court approximately a year ago when he promised that he would not rejoin politics, in order to receive a lenient plea bargain on tax offenses.

The ruling was a 10-1 decision by the justices. Some of the opinions in the majority refrained from ruling whether or not the appointment was reasonable, since the fact that he misled the courts was enough to disqualify him.

The minority opinion by Justice Yosef Elron was that Netanyahu was required to turn to the Central Election Committee chairman, High Court Justice Noam Solberg, in order to determine whether or not Deri’s actions in his 2022 conviction included moral turpitude. If it would meet that threshold, Deri would be barred from serving as a minister for seven years.

In response to the ruling, Shas politicians and allies called for renewed efforts to further the judicial reforms, which included provisions to remove the Reasonableness Clause under which Deri was disqualified.

Another item in the reform announced by Justice Minister Yariv Levin at the beginning of January was the Override Clause, which would allow the Knesset to strike down High Court decisions with a simple 61-vote majority.

Since the announcement of judicial reforms, protests have rocked Tel Aviv every Saturday night, with further demonstrations called for next week by organizers.

“We are here to tell Arye Deri to go home,” said one protest organizer.