Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Soon-to-be-sacked Minister of Health and Internal Affairs Aryeh Deri surrounded by his supporters outside his home in Jerusalem, January 18, 2023.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara on Wednesday wrote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he must uphold the High Court’s ruling and remove Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri from his two government ministries. She also reminded him that he could not keep Deri’s health and interior portfolios to himself, since the law compels a minister under criminal indictment to resign, and he, Netanyahu, is under three such indictments. The letter of the law only requires that convicted minister resign, but no one has yet to challenge the interpretation that it applies to indictments too.

Shortly before the AG sent her letter, the High Court of Justice ruled to invalidate Deri’s ministerial appointments by a 10-1 majority. Seven judges ruled that Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Deri was extremely unreasonable due to his many criminal convictions, past and recent. Three judges ruled based on the principle of judicial estoppel, arguing that Deri’s appointment should be invalidated because he declared before the court that sentenced him that he would not return to political life. Judge Yosef Elron wrote the minority opinion that the decision on Deri’s appointment should be handed to the chairman of the election committee, Judge Noam Solberg, to determine whether his sentence constitutes disgrace, thus disqualifying him from seeking public office for seven years.


The majority preferred not to deal with the disgrace issue, since if Deri’s probationary sentence constituted disgrace, then he couldn’t run for the Knesset at all, never mind being appointed to two of the country’s most vital government ministries.

Justice Uzi Vogelman argued that while as a matter of court practice, Deri’s criminal convictions from the late 1990s should not be used against him after he had served his time in prison and his seven years of disgrace were expired, “Given his new conviction, it is not possible to treat Deri as someone who mended his ways… On the contrary: the addition of the new conviction shows a pattern of violations of the rule of law.”

Fogelman emphasized that “even though Deri’s previous convictions were deleted from the registry within the framework of the personal and public case, they do carry––when added to his latest conviction––considerable weight in considering the reasonableness of the decision to appoint him as a government minister.”

Justice Alex Stein, considered the most conservative of the High Court judges, responded to the vociferous protests of Deri’s supporters, that the court ignored 400,000 Shas voters who also happen to be part of Israel’s have-not’s minority.

Stein wrote: “I will answer the roughly 400,000 men and women who voted for the Shas party and its leader. First, I will point out that this esteemed public voted for the election of Deri as its representative in the Knesset, and obviously did not choose the government ministers.”

Then, Stein, who was clearly very upset with Deri during his court hearing, charged angrily: “Moreover, the election of a person to serve in the Knesset and his ascension to a high post in the government does not grant that person special rights, does not exempt him from his legal obligations, and does not grant him exemption from the results of legal, criminal, or civil proceedings, in which he was involved as a defendant as if he were a king who is not responsible for his wrongdoings.”

Now, that’s how a conservative judge should respond to political corruption!


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