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Aryeh Deri: Netanyahu fires key ally after High Court order


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked key ally Aryeh Deri from all cabinet posts on Sunday, in line with an Israeli deal High Court decision that it was unreasonable to appoint the leader of the Shas party to government positions.

The court had said Deri’s appointment ‘could not stand’ because of his criminal convictions and because he had said in court last year before being convicted of tax evasion that he would step down from the company. public life.

Netanyahu told Deri he made the decision “with a heavy heart, with great sadness,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Deri’s dismissal came a day after more than 100,000 people protested in central Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s government and its planned judicial reforms, according to police estimates in Israeli media. Thousands more demonstrated in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, police said.

It is the third week that opponents of Netanyahu’s government have taken to the streets to protest, but the largest turnout yet.

Netanyahu’s Justice Minister Yariv Levin announced a series of judicial reforms earlier this month that would allow parliament to overrule high court decisions and give politicians more power in appointing judges. On Wednesday, the High Court ruled that Netanyahu should fire Deri, who had previously been convicted of criminal offenses including tax offenses. Deri served a suspended sentence and said he would leave public service.

Deri’s Shas party – which won 11 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, in November and is a key part of Netanyahu’s coalition – immediately hit back, calling the court ruling “arbitrary and unprecedented.” “.

More than 100,000 people joined protests in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

Israeli protesters attend a rally against Netanyahu's new government in Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023.

The Sephardic religious party said the court “today rejected the voices and votes of 400,000 voters of the Shas movement”.

“Today the court in fact ruled that the election made no sense. The court’s decision is political and tainted,” the party said.

The High Court had been asked to rule on whether it was legally reasonable to appoint Deri to positions in Netanyahu’s cabinet despite his tax evasion conviction. The judges ruled that his nomination “cannot stand”.

“This is, among other things, due to his backlog of criminal convictions” and his inability to step back from public life as he said he would when convicted in the tax evasion case.

Opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Yair Lapid and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, attended Saturday’s protest in Tel Aviv.

“What you see here today is a demonstration in favor of the state. People who love the country have come to defend its democracy, its courts, the idea of ​​a common life and a common good,” Lapid tweeted. “There are Israel lovers here who have come to demonstrate for a democratic Jewish state according to the values ​​of the Declaration of Independence. We won’t give up until we win. »

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