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In show of solidarity with fired Deri, top Likud brass attend Shas faction meeting

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Shas leader Aryeh Deri (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a Shas party faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on January 23, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas leader Aryeh Deri (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a Shas party faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on January 23, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a rare move, coalition partners — including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin — join Shas’s Knesset faction meeting to express support for Aryeh Deri, who was fired as a minister yesterday after a High Court of Justice ruling that his appointment was inappropriate in light of his past financial crimes.

Levin tells Deri that “it’s not your private fight” but rather “an issue for the whole public.”

“In a democracy, the one who votes and decides who the government, the ministers, and the lawmakers will be — is the public, the nation,” says Levin.

“A place in which a judge decides” who can be a minister “is a thing that you can call by many different names; democracy its not one of them. Judicial rule is not the rule of law. In many cases it’s the opposite of the rule of law.”

Netanyahu tells the crowd that the coalition “came to save democracy. What is democracy? Rule of the majority and respecting individual rights.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Shas party’s Knesset faction meeting on January 23, 2023, in a show of solidarity for Aryeh Deri (left); Netanyahu fired Deri on January 22, after the High Court ruled he could not hold ministerial office (Knesset channel screenshot)

Sitting to Deri’s right during the meeting was Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, and Levin, all from Netanyahu’s Likud party. Leaders from every coalition party were in attendance.

United Torah Judaism senior lawmaker Moshe Gafni tells Deri: “We’re with you.”

Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich says that by firing Deri, the court is taking on the whole coalition.  “We’re all here for you and at your side, with the understanding that the fight is for all of us.”

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