The coalition government in Israel faces possible dissolution after the High Court of Justice ruled that Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri cannot be a minister due to his criminal convictions, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. "The majority of the justices of the panel determined that this appointment is severely unreasonable, and as such the prime minister must remove him from his role," said the court.
The ruling adds to the simmering tension between the government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and the legal community over a planned judicial overhaul which seeks to weaken the High Court of Justice.
According to the Times of Israel, the ruling prompted calls by the coalition to redouble the push for legislation intended to shackle the court's ability to rule on government or Knesset decisions. Channel 12 news said that it is unclear if Deri will resign or be fired by Netanyahu.
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, from the extreme far-right Otzma Yehudit party, urged the government to defy the court ruling."The court decision is irresponsible and influenced by narrow political interests," he tweeted. "I call on my fellow cabinet members not to comply with the High Court ruling, as it is illegal."
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A previous report claimed that Deri had told his party's Knesset members that he would not resign. If that is the case, Netanyahu has no legal option but to dismiss his senior partner in the coalition. If the prime minister refuses to do so, then it is likely to prompt further petitions to the High Court demanding that Deri should be dismissed.
Netanyahu was indicted on criminal charges of corruption in 2020. His case has still to go to trial.