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Israel Health and Interior Minister replacement announced, following Supreme Court ruling against predecessor

April 17, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Israeli Interior Minister, Arye Dery [Adi Cohen Zedek/Wikimedia]

Israel’s Deputy Minister of Health and Interior is set to replace his former superior, after the Supreme Court ruled against his position in the new Israeli government.

Moshe Arbel, a Knesset member and the Deputy Minister of Health and Interior, will replace former Interior and Health Minister, Arye Dery, in both ministries until the Knesset is able to re-authorise Dery’s reappointment.

Dery was dismissed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January following the Supreme Court’s ruling that he could not serve as a minister in the government due to his criminal past, which includes three convictions on charges such as bribery, fraud, breach of trust and tax evasion.

Since his expulsion, temporary substitutes have been appointed in the Health and Interior ministries, but acting ministers are only allowed to be appointed for a period of three months under Israeli law. Arbel’s appointment – which will reportedly be conducted at a special Knesset meeting on Wednesday – is, therefore, seen as a more lasting solution until Dery’s predicted return.

The ultra-orthodox Shas party, which Dery serves as the leader of, confirmed in a statement that Arbel will serve in the ministerial posts until his predecessor can return to his position, with Council of Torah Sages’ member, Moshe Maya, writing today that the party would work to correct the alleged injustice and reinstate Dery’s position.

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The ruling against the Shas leader resulted in the so-called Dery Law 2, which aims to restore the figure to his position and was passed by the Knesset last month. It serves as an amendment to the Basic Law on the government that charges that the Supreme Court will no longer be able to intervene “on all matters connected with, or arising from, the appointment of a minister or removal from office”.

Under that law, the only real exception is when a minister fails to meet expressly stated eligibility requirements, of which a criminal past is reportedly not included. Despite the Knesset’s approval of the amendment, it is predicted by some that the Court will still prohibit Dery from returning to his position.

It comes amid Netanyahu’s controversial efforts to implement judicial overhaul to decrease the Supreme Court’s power, in the form of a second reform bill pushed by the right-wing government. Those efforts have sparked huge protests throughout Israel, with activists, demonstrators and even armed forces and police officials calling it a move to threaten democracy.

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