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Netanyahu likely to fire Deri by Sunday or defy court

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely have to sack Interior Minister and Health Minister Aryeh Deri from their cabinet posts by Sunday morning in order to comply with Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling against the return of Deri ministerial office, or defy the court.

The Movement for Quality Government (MQG), one of the organizations that successfully petitioned the Supreme Court against Deri’s appointment, wrote directly to Netanyahu on Thursday urging him to fire the Shas party leader “immediately” to “respect the rule of law and the separation of powers”.

The organization has asked the attorney general to take all available steps to ensure Netanyahu removes Deri as soon as possible, and an MQG spokesman said the group would “insist that this happens” but did not say when further action would be taken. legal could be taken. be taken.

While the prime minister has what is defined as a “reasonable time” to comply with the court’s order to sack Deri, that period is unlikely to extend much beyond two or three days after the date the court handed down the decision. .

Allowing Deri to attend Sunday morning’s cabinet meeting in his posts as interior and health minister would almost certainly be considered contempt of court, legal experts told The Times of Israel, although requesting — and receiving — an actual contempt decision it would also take time.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Deri to the ministerial post was “irrational in the extreme” and also violated the principle of estoppel, according to which an individual cannot benefit from a position taken in a legal process and, at the same time, benefit from behavior that goes against that position.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks during a legal conference in Haifa on January 12, 2023. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

On Thursday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara sent Netanyahu a letter saying he should remove Deri from his posts, though he did not set a deadline.

A Justice Ministry official said the court’s assumption was likely that Deri’s dismissal would take place “not long after the ruling”.

According to a Channel 13 News report, the delay in Deri’s resignation is due to Netanyahu’s search for his replacements in the interior and health ministries.

In the past, Netanyahu has taken on ministerial posts in addition to his role as prime minister for various reasons, but he is currently unable to do so as he is currently under indictment and trial on corruption charges.

The Supreme Court ruled that Shas leader Deri’s dual appointments as minister of health and interior were “irrational in the extreme” in light of his recent and past financial crimes, and that Deri misled a magistrate’s court by doing so thinking he would retire from political life to receive a more lenient sentence in a plea deal and to avoid a determination that his recent tax fraud convictions carried “moral turpitude,” a finding that would have automatically barred him from office for seven years.

The decision created a serious problem for Netanyahu, as Deri and his Shas party are a critical part of the coalition, and Deri insisted that he remain in government in some capacity, which would likely entail circumventing the court’s decision through legislation or being appointed as deputy prime minister, a position which may not be subject to court ruling.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with Interior and Health Minister Aryeh Deri at a cabinet meeting at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on January 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An appointment as an alternate prime minister is tricky, however, as it would likely require the government to dissolve and then reform, and would require the passage of complex legislation.

Even if that were done, the Superior Court could also invalidate that appointment.

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