Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fires Shas leader Aryeh Deri from his roles as health and interior minister.
Netanyahu, speaking to Deri, says: “I am compelled, with a heavy heart, with great sorrow and with the worst possible feeling, to remove you from your position as a minister in the government.”
The decision comes following a High Court ruling on Wednesday barring Deri from ministerial office, due both to his past criminal convictions and his promise to resign from political life as part of a plea bargain last year after his conviction for tax offenses.
Netanyahu vows to find a “legal way” for Deri to continue serving the State of Israel.
Deri’s dismissal takes effect in 48 hours, by when Netanyahu will need to find new ministers to take over Deri’s responsibilities.
Netanyahu reads Deri from the text of a letter he has prepared, which states in full:
“As you know, I decided to appoint you as deputy prime minister, interior minister and health minister, with the approval of a majority of Knesset members, because of the fact that I regard you as a font of experience, wisdom and responsibility that are so important for the State of Israel, at any time and especially at this moment. I reasoned that it was important that you serve the State of Israel as a member of the security-diplomatic cabinet in my government, where you could be of influence, given your years of experience as a member of cabinet in the governments of the late prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin — rich experience that contributed to Israel’s security and resilience.
“To my great sorrow, despite all this, the Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, decided on January 18, 2023, that I am required to remove you from your role as minister of the interior and health. This unfortunate decision ignores the will of the people, as shown by the considerable trust that the public placed in the elected representatives who sit in my government, when it was clear to all that you would serve in the government as a senior minister.
“I intend to seek any legal way whereby you can continue to contribute to the State of Israel with your experience and many talents, in accordance with the will of the people. Nevertheless, in the wake of the instructions in the aforementioned verdict, I must inform you that in accordance with Clause 22 (b) of Basic Law: The Government, I am compelled, with a heavy heart, great sorrow and the worst possible feeling, to remove you from your position as a minister in the government. With great appreciation.”