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Israel approves granting ministerial posts to convicted party leaders

Lawmakers attend a swearing in ceremony at the Knesset in Jerusalem. [Israeli Parliament (Knesset) - Anadolu Agency]
Lawmakers attend a swearing in ceremony at the Knesset in Jerusalem. [Israeli Parliament (Knesset) - Anadolu Agency]

Israel's parliament, the Knesset, yesterday approved a controversial legislation that will allow anyone convicted of offences but not given a custodial sentence to hold a ministerial position.

The bill, known as the "Deri Law", enables the return of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister and Shas Party leader, Aryeh Deri, to be appointed as a minister, despite his conviction in January of tax offences.

It was approved along with the second bill, referred to as the "Smotrich Laws" which will allow the far-right extremist Bezalel Smotrich, the head of the Religious Zionism Party, to take up the post of the second minister within the defence ministry.

Israeli lawmakers passed the bills together by a vote of 63-55.

The final bill, known as the "Ben-Gvir Law" would allow Otzma Yehudit leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a Jewish terrorist organisation in 2007, to serve as minister of national security.

READ: US Jewish leaders warn of rift with Israel over incoming far-right gov't

"The Deri Law is more proof of the weakness of incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu against his extremist partners," the Yesh Atid Party wrote on Twitter after the law was passed.

"Bibi is weak, and Deri knew he would give in to him just like he gives in to everyone. IDF soldiers, Holocaust survivors and fighting the high cost of living doesn't matter to them. They don't have good will to do what's right for you, Israel's citizens, but only to make a convicted criminal a minister without being bothered."

Moreover, outgoing Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, wrote: "Even before it was fully formed, this government will be remembered as the most corrupt of all times. A prime minister on trial for severe crimes, a criminal who was in prison and then convicted again will be appointed to a senior minister who will be responsible for your money, a criminal who was convicted of supporting a terrorist organisation will be given responsibility over the police. Every honest Zionist who loves his country is ashamed of this government."

Netanyahu has been facing charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust since 2020, accusations he vehemently denies.

The occupation state's longest serving prime minister has formed the most extreme, ultra-nationalist coalition in the country's history which many have warned could see the collapse of democracy.

READ: Israel court rejects giving ministerial post to convicted party leader

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