Netanyahu and Deri
Netanyahu and DeriKobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Shas chairman Aryeh Deri as Interior and Health Minister Sunday afternoon, four days after Deri was disqualified from serving as a minister by the Supreme Court.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu read the dismissal letter: "As you know, I decided to appoint you as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Health with the approval of the majority of Knesset members due to the fact that I see you as an anchor of experience, wisdom and responsibility that are important to the State of Israel at all times, and especially at this time."

"Yes, I thought it was important for you to serve the State of Israel as a member of the security-political cabinet in my government, where you could influence your many years of experience as a cabinet member in the governments of the late Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin - you rich experience that contributes to the security and resilience of the State of Israel.

"Unfortunately, despite the above, on 18.1.23 the Supreme Court decided ... that I have an obligation to remove you from your position as Minister of the Interior and Health. This unfortunate decision ignores the will of the people, as reflected in the great trust that the public gave to the representatives of the people and their elected officials in my government, when it was clear to everyone that you would serve in the government as a senior minister.

Netanyahu emphasized that "I intend to look for any legal way in which you can continue to contribute to the State of Israel with your many experiences and skills, in accordance with the will of the people. However, following the provisions of the said judgment, I must inform you that according to Article 22 (b) of the Basic Law: The Government, I am forced with a heavy heart and with great sorrow to remove you from your position as a minister in the government.''

Deri's dismissal will take effect within 48 hours. In the meantime, Netanyahu will have to find replacements to fill Deri's positions in the Finance and Interior Ministries.

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Shas chairman 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."