Giving convicted Shas party leader Aryeh Deri ministerial roles “exceeds in the extreme the boundaries of reasonableness,” Israel’s attorney general told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday.
“The appointment at this time of Minister Deri to the distinguished position of cabinet minister, less than a year after he was convicted and was given a suspended jail sentence, will bring about severe damage to public trust in the ethical conduct of elected officials,” added Gali Baharav-Miara.
Deri has, in fact, been convicted three times: in 1999, 2003 and 2022. In 1999, he was sentenced to four years in prison for accepting bribes, and committing fraud and breach of trust. In both 2003 and 2022, he received suspended sentences.
“These crimes… in the eyes of the Attorney General, move Deri’s appointment as a minister beyond the boundaries of reasonableness, which means to say to a place in which his appointment is unreasonable and cannot be approved,” said Baharav-Miara.
According to the Times of Israel, she noted that in 2015 and 2016, the High Court opined that Deri’s appointment as a minister was at the edges of the boundaries of reasonableness, bearing in mind his 1999 conviction for bribery.
The attorney general, however, conceded that Deri’s role as head of a party that won eleven Knesset seats, and the Knesset’s vote of confidence in the new government which includes the Shas leader, should be taken into account.
In response, Deri said, “I trust the High Court in Jerusalem to convene [on Thursday] in an expanded panel of eleven justices and hear the voices of over two million Israeli citizens and 400,000 Shas constituents who want to see me as a minister in this government.”
Deri is currently serving under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as deputy prime minister, minister of health and minister of the interior and periphery.