Deri said he is pushing for an alternate role of prime minister in talks with Netanyahu following a court ruling

Shas leader Aryeh Deri is pushing for appointment as deputy prime minister in ongoing talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, days after the ultra-Orthodox party chief was disqualified by the Supreme Court from serving as cabinet minister over his repeated criminal convictions.

According to a Channel 12 report on Thursday, Deri and Netanyahu have held talks and considered their next move, hoping to find an alternative senior role for the Shas leader, who was appointed health and interior minister in the new government. , sworn in last month. The report said Netantahyu and Deri want to have a plan in place before Deri officially steps down, as demanded by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara earlier Thursday, or is fired, but disagreements between the two over the best way forward remain.

Public broadcaster Kan reported that Netanyahu plans to fire Deri sometime over the weekend and will have to announce a replacement.

According to the Channel 12 report, Deri has asked to be named deputy prime minister and has pushed for his continued participation in the security cabinet, while Netanyahu has suggested a number of other avenues, including the role of Knesset speaker, which Deri allegedly refused . . The TV report said the prime minister has also offered to pass legislation that would limit the Supreme Court’s right to intervene in ministerial appointments — a move the court could also block — as the coalition scrambles to make a move. to find a way to circumvent the court’s decision on Wednesday and Deri a high position.

Making Deri deputy prime minister is also a gamble and its implementation would be complex and risky as it could end up with Deri being disqualified from even serving as a member of the Knesset.

Installing Deri as deputy prime minister would require the government to pass a vote of no confidence in itself and form a new, power-sharing government. However, since the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether to appoint a convicted criminal to the role, the case is likely to go before the judges.

The court could make the nomination conditional on a ruling from the Central Elections Committee, depending on whether Deri’s conviction for tax violations last year – which earned him a suspended sentence in a plea deal – involves “moral outrages”. Such a designation would mean that he would be barred from holding public office for seven years.

In such a scenario, which is not unlikely, Deri would automatically cease to be a Knesset member and be demoted even further.

The role of deputy prime minister was created in 2020 by Netanyahu and Benny Gantz for their short-lived power-sharing government and was also used by the subsequent government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, who was replaced last month. Netanyahu and his new hardline government have vowed to ignore the legal option of an alternative prime minister, arguing that there should be only one national leader.

Deri is a key coalition partner in Netanyahu’s government and a longtime confidant of the prime minister.

According to reports in the Hebrew press, if all else fails, Netanyahu would consider the possibility of having Deri serve as an “observer” on the security cabinet, a panel of top ministers charged with making decisions about Israel’s military stance. , diplomatic relations and other matters of critical state importance.

Netanyahu might also consider convening a so-called “kitchen cabinet,” a small internal security cabinet, in which Deri would participate, Channel 12 reported. The interior cabinet is tasked with launching wars or major military operations, pursuing ceasefires, fire or other diplomatic initiatives and handling sensitive intelligence matters. Before its creation in 2001, prime ministers convened ad hoc war cabinets during national emergencies, including Golda Meir’s famous kitchen cabinet during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled 10-1 that Deri’s dual appointments as health and interior minister were “extremely unreasonable” in light of his recent and past financial crimes, and that Deri had misled a magistrate into thinking he would retire take on political life to evade the finding that his recent conviction for tax fraud involved “moral outrages”.

Deri was also convicted and imprisoned for taking bribes during an earlier stint as Home Secretary in the 1990s.

While Shas and coalition partners anticipated the ruling, government members said they were unprepared for its severity, expecting judges to rely purely on the test of “reasonableness” to disqualify Deri from a ministerial position. This allows courts to rule that certain actions or decisions are void because they are unreasonable in the most extreme case.

However, in addition to the “reasonableness” test, the court also indicated that Deri could not reverse his claim that he would leave the Knesset, and ostensibly politics, as part of his plea deal because of the legal principle of foreclosure, which prohibits parties in lawsuits from making claims in different procedures.

Using the exclusionary argument could prevent the decision from being overruled by the government if it proposes legislation to overturn the “reasonableness” consideration and try to keep Deri in cabinet.

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