Background: Aryeh Deri precedent could hurt Hanegbi
Judicial precedent demands that Hanegbi quit the cabinet if indicted while holding a portfolio.
By DAN IZENBERG
According to judicial precedent, Tzahi Hanegbi would have to resign from the cabinet if he were indicted while holding a portfolio in the current government or the one that will be established after the upcoming national elections.
On September 8, 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that interior minister Aryeh Deri had to immediately leave the cabinet of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin after the attorney-general submitted an indictment against him. Rabin had refused to fire Deri despite the opinion of justice minister David Liba'i, because he feared that Shas would leave the coalition and leave him with a minority government. But the Movement for Quality Government petitioned the High Court demanding Deri's dismissal.
Supreme Court PresidentMeir Shamgar wrote in his decision that "if a man facing an indictment that accuses him of taking a bribe worth hundreds of thousands of shekels and in other ways abusing his administrative posts serves as a cabinet minister, this will have far-reaching implications for the image of Israel's government, its good faith and respectability."
Shamgar added that the ruling forcing Deri to resign was given on the specific merits of the case and was not definitive. Nevertheless, it has come to be accepted that ministers and deputy ministers (deputy religious affairs minister Raphael Pinhasi was forced to leave the cabinet in a parallel ruling the same day) cannot continue to serve if they are indicted.
It should be added that the Basic Law: Government only calls for the resignation of a minister if the district court in which he is tried convicts him of a crime involving moral turpitude. Nevertheless, the court ruled that the law gave the prime minister the right to fire ministers and sometimes that right became an obligation.
"There are circumstances in which discretionary authority becomes obligatory," wrote Shamgar.