Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday, dismissed a senior cabinet ally to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that disqualified the minister from serving.
Netanyahu fired Aryeh Deri, the Minister of Health and Interior Affairs, during his weekly cabinet meeting, the PM’s office said in a statement.
The move follows a Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that Deri cannot serve as a minister.
Deri is an influential and veteran leader of the ultra-Orthodox party Shas.
The court ruling is due to a conviction in Feb. 2022 over tax fraud.
“I am forced, with a heavy heart, great sorrow and a very difficult feeling, to remove you from your position as a minister in the government,” Netanyahu wrote in a dismissal letter to Deri.
The Supreme Court’s decision “ignores the people’s will”, Netanyahu told Deri.
“I intend to find any legal way for you to continue to contribute to the state of Israel,” he said.
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The minister said, after the meeting, that he would continue to serve as the leader of the Shas party.
He also pledged to help the government to advance its agenda, including a controversial judiciary reform to weaken the Supreme Court.
Deri’s Shas became the third-largest party in the parliament after winning 11 seats in parliamentary elections in November.
If Netanyahu loses its support, he might lose his majority in the parliament as his far-right coalition only has 64 seats in the 120-seat parliament.
The legal decision deepens an already unprecedented rift between the new hard-right government and the judiciary.
The rift follows the government’s reform plan to weaken the Supreme Court.
On Saturday, the Police estimated that 120,000 Israelis protested in Tel Aviv and other cities against the legal overhaul.
They claimed the overhaul will undermine the autonomy of the courts and threaten Israel’s democracy. (Xinhua)
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