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Deri said to have prepared legal opinion in bid to be minister despite convictions

Shas chairman Aryeh Deri arrives for coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
Shas chairman Aryeh Deri arrives for coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Lawyers for Shas leader Arye Deri have preemptively prepared a 12-page legal opinion laying out why he should be allowed to be a minister in the next government despite his criminal convictions, Channel 12 reports.

Deri was convicted of tax offenses in January after pleading guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors that also saw him resign from the Knesset.

Deri’s resignation from parliament enabled him to dodge a conviction of moral turpitude — relevant to public officials — which would have barred him from returning to office for several years.

The legal opinion also argues that since he only received a suspended sentence, there was no bar to him returning to office.

The legal opinion has been shared with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who wants to appoint Deri as a top minister, the report says, noting that such a move would likely face legal challenges.

It was Deri’s second conviction during his political career.

Deri previously served 22 months in prison from 2000 to 2002, after he was convicted of taking bribes while serving as interior minister. That verdict carried moral turpitude. In 2013, he returned to politics, reclaiming the leadership of Shas and ultimately returning to serve as interior minister from 2016 until last year, when his party entered the opposition. A court had ruled that his prior conviction did not disqualify him from the position.

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