Bombshell: Deri never agreed to leave politics, admits former attorney-general

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Deri cannot serve as minister, based partially on his alleged agreement to resign from the Knesset.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Former Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit dropped a major revelation in an interview with Channel 12 News, admitting that Shas party chair Aryeh Deri had never promised to retire from politics as part of his plea bargain on tax evasion charges.

Deri, who retired from the Knesset in January 2022 after accepting the deal, has consistently maintained that his permanent departure from politics was never part of the agreement.

“I didn’t hear any commitment that he was quitting political life forever or any other amount of time,” Mandelblit revealed during the Channel 12 Interview. “It was not part of the bargain, unequivocally. We didn’t discuss it.”

Mandelblit added that law enforcement “did not excel” in the case against Deri, noting that they essentially botched the investigation and dragged out the process for an unusually long period of time before filing charges.

“Today it became clear to all of us once again how much [the High Court ruling against Deri] is a complete miscarriage of justice,” said Shas MK Moshe Arbel in a media statement.

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“When Mandelblit says in his own voice, unequivocally and clearly, that there was a terrible and ongoing legal torture and that he [did not know of] any commitment of Deri’s that he would retire from political life permanently or for any period of time, any other decision is a distortion of the truth and of the voter’s will.”

After Deri was appointed Health and Interior Minister by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in December 2022, numerous left-wing NGOs filed a petition to the Supreme Court.

The groups claimed that the lawmaker serving as a minister in the government was a violation of his plea bargain and that his criminal record made his appointment “unreasonable.”

The court sided with the petitioners, ordering that Deri must leave his positions. Netanyahu obeyed the court and fired Deri a few days after the ruling.

Currently, Deri is serving as a Knesset member, though coalition parties have vowed to pass legislation that would allow him to be restored as a minister.

However, the court still has not determined whether or not Deri’s crime was one of “moral turpitude,” which would see him automatically banned from politics for a term of seven years.