Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks the High Court of Justice to reject petitions against the appointment of Shas leader Aryeh Deri as interior and health minister ahead of a court hearing on Thursday.
In his response to the court, filed by independent counsel since the attorney general refused to defend the government’s position in court, Netanyahu argues the court has no grounds to intervene in the appointment of government ministers and that legislation passed to enable the appointments was legitimate.
Several organizations submitted petitions against Deri’s appointment as a cabinet minister, arguing that his past criminal convictions make his appointment unreasonable and legislation passed to circumvent legal problems with his appointment was illegitimate.
Netanyahu’s independent legal counsel argues that the legislation passed before the government was sworn in to amend Israel’s Basic Law: The Government that changed ministerial fitness standards in Deri’s favor could not be challenged by the court since the law was passed by the Knesset in its role as constituent authority.
“The honorable court lacks authority to annul any aspect of a Basic Law,” argues Netanyahu’s counsel, adding: “The issue before us is not justiciable,” that is, not subject to the court’s oversight.
Netanyahu’s counsel also argues that the court is not entitled to exercise judicial review over Netanyahu’s decisions as prime minister or over the Knesset’s decision to express confidence in the new government and its ministers.