Jan 22, 2023 - World

Netanyahu sacks key ally to comply Israeli Supreme Court ruling

Aryeh Deri and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk at a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 8. Photo: Ronen Zvulum/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Shas party leader Aryeh Deri on Sunday — four days after the Supreme Court revoked the appointment of his close political ally as minister of interior and health.

Why it matters: It's a major political setback for Netanyahu and his government, which came to power less than a month ago. Deri was one of the most experienced politicians in Netanyahu's government and one of the only ministers the prime minister truly trusted.

  • It's also a political blow to Deri and the Shas party. It will be very hard to find a legislative solution to bypass the Supreme Court ruling and allow Deri to become a minister again.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court had ruled Deri's appointment was "highly unreasonable" due to the Shas party leader's past criminal convictions.

  • During a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu read a letter he gave Deri announcing he is firing him.
  • Netanyahu wrote that the Supreme Court decision "disregarded the will of the people" in the last election.
  • He stressed he will "seek every legal path" that will allow Deri to continue contributing and return to government.

What they're saying: Deri said in the Cabinet meeting that once the ruling was made, he didn't contemplate at any point not adhering to it.

  • He denied that he had made a commitment in his plea bargain last year to leave political life as the Supreme Court said in its ruling.
  • "I am committed to 400,000 Shas voters. No court ruling will stop me from representing and serving them. I will continue leading Shas party," Deri said.
  • He added that he will help the government to implement its controversial judicial overhaul plan, which would weaken the Supreme Court and other democratic institutions. The plan has faced growing opposition from the Israeli public, with more than 100,000 people across Israel joining protests against the government on Saturday night.

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