Ahead of an expected High Court of Justice ruling on whether Aryeh Deri is fit to serve as a minister, a member of Deri’s Shas party says any decision to disqualify him would mean the justices are “shooting themselves in the head.”
The court is widely expected to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointing Deri as interior and health minister in the new government is “extremely unreasonable” in light of Deri’s three past convictions, including one last year for tax offenses that landed him a suspended sentence.
Hebrew media have reported that in a faction meeting yesterday, Deri asked Shas MKs to escalate their rhetoric against that possibility and to highlight that such a ruling would “harm the [Shas] voters, not me.” He reportedly added: “The public elected me, not the Supreme Court justices.”
Shas MK Avraham Bezalel tells the Knesset Channel: “I think that in the end, if [the judges] rule to disqualify him they are shooting themselves, even in the head I’d say. They are aware of the current sensitivity, they understand what the public thinks. We know the protests and see the things happening in the streets over the past few weeks in light of the whole situation.”
When asked if his remarks were intended as a threat to the High Court judges, Bezalel said: “I don’t think this is threatening at all. I understand they need to take this and I have no doubt this is on the table.” He didn’t clarify those remarks.
The interview comes amid plans by the hardline government to overhaul the judiciary, cancel the “unreasonableness” argument expected to be used against Deri, and allow the coalition to appoint justices, strike down High Court rulings and appoint ministries’ legal advisers.