Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri as Minister of the Interior and Health Ministries on Sunday in order to comply with a High Court of Justice ruling, Israeli media have reported. The court ruled last Wednesday Deri is unfit to serve as a minister in the Israeli government due to his criminal record.
"As is known," Netanyahu wrote to Deri, "I decided to appoint you as deputy prime minister and interior and health minister with the approval of the majority of Knesset members due to the fact that I see you as an anchor of experience, intelligence and responsibility."
The prime minister read his letter out loud during his cabinet meeting, and commended Deri as a minister with "rich experience" who worked with late Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.
The "unfortunate decision" of the High Court of Justice, said Netanyahu, "ignores the will of the people, as reflected in the great trust that the public gave to the people's representatives and their elected officials in my government."
He pledged to keep the sacked minister involved in running the country. "I intend to look for any legal way in which you can continue to contribute to the State of Israel from your vast experiences and skills, in accordance with the will of the people."
When Netanyahu delayed sacking Deri until yesterday, some politicians accused him of purposely dragging his feet and showing contempt for the High Court.