AG says she can’t defend Deri’s appointment as minister in front of High Court

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks during a conference at the University of Haifa, December 15, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks during a conference at the University of Haifa, December 15, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara announces that she will not defend the appointment of Aryeh Deri as minister of health and the interior against petitions to the High Court of Justice demanding these appointments be canceled.

In a filing to the High Court, the State Attorney’s Office says that after having spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue, “the attorney general decided that she cannot defend his position regarding the appointment of MK Deri to the position of interior minister, health minister and deputy prime minister.”

The State Attorney’s Office notes that the attorney general has, however, allowed Netanyahu and Deri to employ external counsel to defend Deri’s appointment in the High Court.

The attorney general is the government’s chief legal adviser and usually represents the state and its ministries in legal proceedings against government action, although instances have occurred in the past when the attorney general has refused to do so.

Interior and Health Minister Aryeh Deri at a ceremony of the incoming minister of Social Affairs Yaacov Margi (not seen), at the Social Affairs Ministry in Jerusalem on January 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Several NGOs submitted petitions against Deri’s appointment as a cabinet minister, arguing that his 2022 conviction on tax fraud charges, as well as his conviction in 1999 on bribery charges, make his appointment “unreasonable.”

The petitions also argue that the legislation recently passed by the new government amending one of the Basic Laws to allow Deri to be appointed was illegitimate since the law was passed due to the political considerations of an individual politician and the new government.

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