The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday afternoon that Shas chairman Aryeh Deri may not serve as a minister in the current government following his conviction for tax offenses one year ago.
Ten justices voted to disqualify Deri, while one justice, Yosef Elron, voted to allow Deri to continue to serve as a minister.
In their ruling, the justices stated that Deri's appointment as Interior and Health Minister "cannot stand. Most of the panel's judges determined that this appointment was extremely unreasonable, and therefore the Prime Minister should remove Deri from his position. This is, among other things, due to his backlog of criminal convictions, which also includes a conviction for tax offenses from February 2022, according to Deri's confession as part of a plea deal, and also due to what Deri presented to the Magistrate's Court that sentenced him for these offenses, according to which he would retire from political life, and his conduct thereafter."
Several petitions had been submitted to the court following the formation of the government against Deri's qualification to serve as Interior and Health Minister given that he has been convicted three times for crimes committed as a minister. The attorney general submitted her opinion to the court that it would be beyond the bounds of reasonableness for Deri to be allowed to serve as a minister.
Israel Hayom reported Wednesday morning that Netanyahu will not defy a Supreme Court ruling against his Interior Minister, and is prepared to fire Deri should the court insist he do so.
Deri has reportedly told Shas party members at a faction meeting Monday that he will not step down, even if the Supreme Court rules against his appointment as Interior Minister.
The Shas faction has threatened to bring down the government if Deri is fired following the verdict. Welfare Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) told Reshet Bet Wednesday morning that his party will likely not support the continuation of the Netanyahu government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fires Deri.
The Shas party said in response to the Supreme Court's verdict: "Today the court ruled in practice that the elections are meaningless. The court's ruling is political, tainted, and extremely unreasonable."