In Israel, the Supreme Court invalidates the appointment of the interior minister convicted of tax evasion

In Israel, the Supreme Court invalidates the appointment of the interior minister convicted of tax evasion

Israeli Interior Minister Arie Deri on January 8, 2023 together with Justice Minister Yariv Levin (left) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (right). Israeli Interior Minister Arie Deri on January 8, 2023 together with Justice Minister Yariv Levin (left) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (right). RONEN ZVULUN v AFP

The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday January 18th invalidated the appointment of Interior Minister Arie Deri, who was found guilty of tax evasion. At the end of December, Israeli MPs hastily voted on what the press dubbed the “Déri Law” which would allow a person convicted of a crime but not sentenced to prison to obtain a ministerial portfolio to to allow the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shass party to enter Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that MP Arié Déri’s appointment as Interior and Health Minister cannot be confirmed,” Israel’s highest court said in a press release. “The Prime Minister must dismiss him,” she continues, recalling that Mr Déri announced in early 2022, after his conviction, that he would retire from political life.

However, he ran in the general elections in November and was re-elected, then appointed home and health ministers in the right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox coalition government.

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The Basic Laws prohibit an accused – let alone convicted – Israeli citizen from holding a ministerial post. The judiciary, which is the only one capable of ensuring its application and respect for individual rights, therefore declared this appointment invalid on Wednesday, despite the “déri law”.

attack on democracy

Lawyers demonstrate on January 12, 2023 in Tel Aviv against the planned judicial reform. Lawyers demonstrate on January 12, 2023 in Tel Aviv against the planned judicial reform. ODED BALILTY / AP

Justice Minister Yariv Levin earlier this month unveiled a plan to reform the judiciary that includes the introduction of an “override clause” allowing Parliament to overturn a Supreme Court decision. The date of the parliamentary scrutiny is not yet known, but the project has already caused protests. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated this weekend, specifically to demand the abandonment of this project, which many see as an attack on democracy.

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If Arié “Déri is not dismissed, the government will be outlawed and a government that does not respect the law is an illegitimate government,” said opposition leader Yaïr Lapid.

Mr Déri, ​​​​​​63, was first elected to Parliament in 1992 under the banner of Shass, which he led for years and served as a minister in several governments. In 2000, he was sentenced to three years in prison for corruption and was released after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

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The world with AFP