Bill aimed at returning Deri to cabinet passes first plenum reading

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

Shas chief Aryeh Deri leads a faction meeting, at the Knesset on February 13, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas chief Aryeh Deri leads a faction meeting, at the Knesset on February 13, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset advances a bill to enable Shas leader Aryeh Deri to return to his ministerial posts after the High Court of Justice ruled his position in the cabinet was unreasonable in the extreme due to a recent criminal conviction.

The proposal clears its first plenum reading, with 63 votes in favor to 55 against.

The bill is an amendment to Basic Law: the Government, and prohibits all courts, including the High Court, from exercising judicial review over ministerial appointments.

The legislation does provide for extra Knesset oversight over ministerial appointments and also grants the Knesset the ability to remove a minister from office under certain circumstances.

The High Court’s decision ordering Deri to be dismissed in January generated outrage among coalition parties and Shas in particular, which they argued interfered with the will of the electorate.

“We believe that this law will strengthen the standing of the judicial branch, which can return to focusing on those fields in which it has an advantage of other branches of government, and will not encroach on the boundaries of the legislative branch,” says coalition whip MK Ofir Katz, who sponsored the bill.

National Unity MK Gideon Sa’ar lambasts the bill however for seeking to circumvent the High Court.

“What are the motivations for these amendments?… It is just personal interests. This purpose of this law is transparent, to try and take care of someone whose appointment the High Court struck down, and have him appointed a minister despite this decision,” says Sa’ar.

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