Shas head Deri says he has no interest in return to government

Shas leader Aryeh Deri claims he is no longer pursuing a return to the cabinet, a day after the governing coalition went to the mat with the High Court to defend a controversial law that was thought to be intended to pave his way back.

In an interview with Haredi news site, Kikar Hashabbat, the politician notes that he has not moved to rejoin the government, even though the coalition already passed a law meant to shackle the court’s ability to declare his appointment unreasonable.

“I could use it, we voided [the reasonableness test], but no, categorically no,” he says, adding that he also would not be pursuing a third version of the so-called Deri law, which had been meant to keep the court off his back.

Deri’s appointment as interior and health minister was shot down earlier this year, after judges accepted a petition against allowing him to serve. Last year, Deri misled a court into believing he would leave public life following a fresh tax fraud conviction in order to secure a plea deal.

Rather than join the government, Deri says he would rather work on internal party campaigning, saying the party has five fine ministers.

“I have no interest in returning to the cabinet or government,” he says.

Deri, who has shown little appetite for clashing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent years, also offers relatively strong support for a compromise on the judicial overhaul now backed by Netanyahu, but claims there is nobody in the opposition to negotiate with.

“Should we use our majority of 64 seats and advance this reform and say, ‘We were elected by the public,’ and not take the minority into account? I think not,” he says.

Deri credits the protest movement with slowing the overhaul legislation and giving lawmakers “another view,” acknowledging serious issues with the way the process has gone so far, though he indicates better PR could have changed that.

“The shape of the reform and the makeup of the government and all these things that so many people leading the reforms are saying, it made a lot of people afraid, it created this huge trauma there is now a thought to create a new type of regime here,” he says.

He also refuses to commit to honoring High Court rulings.

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