Netanyahu fires Teri ‘with a heavy heart’ after high court rejects conviction of minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed top ally Aryeh Deri from his cabinet on Sunday, a decision expected to stoke political uncertainty despite an order by the high court and an argument by the attorney general.

Netanyahu said it was with a “heavy heart” that he was compelled to comply with the court on Wednesday Rule – which cited a number of accusations by Terry and the recent apparent disappointment of a lower court – and halted Terry’s dual appointment as home and health minister. The layoff is effective Tuesday. Teri’s Shaz party has pushed Netanyahu to find a path back into the cabinet, and the prime minister has vowed to find one.Any legal way This way you can continue to contribute to the nation of Israel.

Responding to his ouster, Teri said it was “clear” to him and Netanyahu to leave the government after the court ruling, but that he would not retire from political life. “No judicial decision will prevent me from serving and representing” the 400,000-odd Shaz voters who gave his ultra-Orthodox party 11 Knesset seats in the November election, he said.

Teri pledged to continue to lead Shas as a lawmaker in the Knesset, chairing its factional meetings and attending meetings of coalition leaders. In fact, Teri participated in a meeting of coalition leaders convened by Netanyahu after the cabinet meeting in which he was fired.

Derry’s spokesman said the Shas leader would also retain his post of deputy prime minister, which is largely honorary and carries no official authority. It was unclear whether Terry would allow an observer seat at the cabinet table, but the spokesman said the government would continue to invite Terry to its meetings as an observer.

Briefly, during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu temporarily left the room, leaving the meeting in charge of Teri. Earlier this month, Deri briefly filled in for Netanyahu while the prime minister underwent a routine colonoscopy.

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In his remarks on Sunday, the prime minister slammed the court’s “unfortunate decision” to disqualify Terry from ministerial office, which “ignored the will of the people, as shown by the considerable confidence the public has in the elected representatives who sit in my government, when it is clear to everyone that you will serve in the cabinet as a senior minister.” .

“Based on your years of experience as a cabinet member in the governments of late prime ministers, I reasoned that it was important for you to serve the nation of Israel as a member of the defense cabinet in my government where you could influence. Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin — a rich experience that has contributed to Israel’s security and resilience,” Netanyahu continued, reading from a prepared letter to Deri, who was seated immediately to his right.

The prime minister will be hard-pressed to address the issues raised by Terry’s ouster, three weeks after swearing in a tough coalition that promises political stability, and three months after winning Israel’s fifth national election in four years.

Aryeh Deri arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on January 22, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

It is unclear who will replace Terry in the home and health ministries. Normally, when a minister resigns, his portfolios automatically revert to the prime minister on a temporary basis until a new minister is appointed. But because Netanyahu is under criminal charges in connection with a separate corruption investigation, he is barred by law from holding any cabinet post other than prime minister.

Opposition leader Yair Labit called on Netanyahu to make immediate appointments to fill the vacancies as various outside possibilities and unsubstantiated reports swirled about temporary Shas chief fillings for Teri.

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“What we are seeing is not a government, it is a circus. “Netanyahu is weak, but he must appoint a full-time health minister and interior minister today,” Lapid said in a statement after the cabinet meeting.

Despite Terry’s financial crimes, he oversaw two of Israel’s most powerful and well-funded ministries. Although Netanyahu did not mention Teri’s imminent ouster at the start of Sunday’s meeting, he devoted most of his remarks to “congratulating Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Aryeh Teri” for expanding health services under the country’s national health insurance.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on January 22, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Prime Minister most recently sacked Terry in January 2022, in light of Terry’s criminal convictions, four days after the High Court issued its bombshell ruling that the decision to appoint the Shas chief as interior and health minister was “grossly unfair”.

Deri pursued a petition at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court at the time to allow him to leave the Knesset before his sentencing, thereby avoiding a hearing on whether his tax fraud conviction constituted moral turpitude – which would have barred him from holding public office for seven years. years.

The court then believed that Terry was retiring from public life. However, he continued to lead Shas from outside the Knesset and quickly won a legislative re-election in the November 1 election. Deri demanded that Netanyahu be returned to the cabinet table despite the Basic Law: The government wants the Central Election Commission to determine whether his crime caused moral turpitude before he was appointed a minister.

The Coalition hastily decided to allow Deri to take office along with other members of the Cabinet on 29 December.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut hears petitions seeking to annul the appointment of Shas leader Aryeh Teri as a government minister due to his recent conviction for tax crimes at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, January 5, 2023. (Yonathan Shindel/Flash90)

He doubled down on his claim on Sunday, saying he never informed the court that he was quitting politics, despite the judge’s claim. opinions From the moment that feeling is properly affirmed. The High Court in its judgment last week partially relied on the opinion of the judiciary EstoppelTerry argues that he cannot benefit from a soft plea deal based on the assumption that he will soon leave public life and return to public life.

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In addition to employing estoppel, the court ruled that Teri’s appointment failed the fairness test, a judicial criterion that Netanyahu’s government has promised to eliminate amid efforts to pass sweeping changes to the checks and balances system.

“I can say to my friends in government and to the public, it was clear to the prosecution, it was clear to the previous Attorney General, Dr. Avichai Mandelphit, that I had no intention, I never had, and did not, to leave political life. Matters from the beginning to the end of the discussions. were clear and on the table,” Terry said during the cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu’s government’s push to reform the judiciary includes shifting the appointment of judges to political control and creating a mechanism to protect the Basic Laws from court interference and re-legislating other laws struck down by the courts. His government says it is necessary to redress the balance of power between politics and the judiciary, but critics, including 100,000 Israelis who took to the streets Saturday night to protest the reform plan, say it threatens democratic institutions and endangers civil liberties. Giving almost all power to the ruling coalition.

Coalition party leaders meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on January 22, 2023. (Courtesy Likud)

Following the cabinet meeting, key coalition leaders met with Netanyahu. A Likud spokesman said the meeting was conducted “excellently” in “good spirits”. Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smodrich attended Friday’s cabinet meeting with two fellow party ministers to protest the government’s decision to waive protections against illegal immigration, despite boycotting it.

In addition to coalition leaders Teri, Smodrich, United Torah Judaism’s Yitzhak Goldknapp, Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben Gvir and Nomin Avi Maas, UTJ’s Tegel HaTorah branch head Moshe Gafni and several members of Netanyahu attended the meeting. – Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Education Minister Yoav Kish and Ofir Katz of the Coalition.

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