Shas chair Deri to resign from Knesset in plea deal that lets him stay in politics — report

Raoul Wootliff is the Times of Israel's former political correspondent and producer of the Daily Briefing podcast.

Shas leader Aryeh Deri during a party faction meeting in the Knesset on May 30, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas leader Aryeh Deri during a party faction meeting in the Knesset on May 30, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri is expected to sign a plea deal in the coming days, in which he will admit to tax offenses and resign from the Knesset by the end of its current term, Channel 12 news reports.

As part of the reported deal, Deri will not be charged with a crime that would entail moral turpitude, meaning he would be eligible to run for future office, even in the next elections.

Deri’s office does not deny the report, saying only that it would not comment “until a decision is made.”

Channel 12 says that Shas officials expect Deri to continue to “control and lead” the party from outside the Knesset.

Walla reports that Deri has already given his consent to the details of the deal and that it is now only awaiting the signature of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Mandelblit announced in January that he intended to file criminal charges against Deri, pending a hearing.

Deri, who was convicted and jailed for bribery decades ago, had initially been suspected of the same charge when the current investigation began five years ago, but Mandelblit has ended up accusing him of the lesser offenses of failing to report income to tax authorities on two occasions, and additional tax offenses committed while selling Jerusalem apartments to his brother, Shlomo.

He had also been suspected of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust over the alleged diversion of hundreds of thousands of shekels in state funds to NGOs run by members of his immediate family, but those charges were dropped.

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