‘With a heavy heart’: Netanyahu fires Interior Minister Deri following court ruling

Prime Minister Netanyahu upholds Supreme Court ruling against Shas leader, fires Health Minister and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday fired a senior government minister, after the Supreme Court ruled last week that the minister’s appointment was invalid.

At the end of the government’s weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu fired Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri, ending his service both as Health Minister and Interior Minister.

Netanyahu lamented the move, saying the court’s ruling left him no choice.

“It is with a heavy heart, much regret, and the most terrible feeling, to end your tenure as a government minister,” Netanyahu said, reading from his letter to Deri.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled 10 to 1 that Deri’s appointment violated the reasonableness standard, and is thus invalid. The court cited Deri’s multiple corruption convictions, ruling that it was unreasonable for the government to appointment someone with such a criminal history as a government minister.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara backed the court’s ruling, instructing Netanyahu to fire Deri should the minister make good on his pledge not to resign.

“MK Deri cannot continue to serve as a minister in the Government of Israel,” Baharav-Miara wrote in a letter to Netanyahu. “You must act in line with the legal ruling and remove [Deri] from his roles in the government.”

After removing Deri from the government, Netanyahu vowed to include Deri as a prominent coalition official, even if he cannot serve as a minister.

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“I intend to search every legal way to allow you to continue to contribute to the State of Israel with your considerable talents and experience, in keeping with the will of the people.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party), who also serves as Minister in the Defense Ministry, boycotted the cabinet meeting, after his party initiated sanctions against the coalition over the demolition of a settlement outpost in Samaria Friday.

The outpost, Ohr HaHaim, was built the night before by activists who named the site after the late spiritual leader of the Religious Zionist movement, Rabbi Haim Druckman.

While Smotrich, who was granted broad authority over settlement affairs within the Defense Ministry, had ordered that no action be taken against the outpost until a hearing was held in the matter, Defense Minister Yoav Galant overruled the order, instruction the Civil Administration to dismantle the outpost.