Deri 'naturally' Interior Min. after ruling it out

Ex-Shas spokesperson explains Deri's response to criticism as he returns to post, 22 years after he abused it taking bribes and was jailed.

Shimon Cohen ,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Alex Kolomoisky/POOL

Shas chairperson Aryeh Deri was approved unanimously by the government on Sunday as Interior Minister, a post he abused 22 years ago by taking bribes.

Former Shas spokesperson and former Interior Minister spokesperson Roi Lahmanovitz, who currently serves as a strategic consultant for the party, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Monday about Deri's return to the post.

Deri was forced to resign in September 1993 after he abused the post of Interior Minister. His acceptance of bribes while in the post also led him to be jailed for corruption in 1999 for around two years, and to leave politics for a number of years. He returned to politics in 2011, quickly regained power of the Shas party and was appointed a minister after elections in March 2015.

When asked about how Deri is taking the criticism over his return to the position, Lahmanovitz noted that when Deri joined the coalition government early last year, he said at the time he would give up on the Interior Minister post, as he understood it would cause opposition.

However, since Deri abandoned the Economics Minister position over his unwillingness to sign off on the controversial gas deal, circumstances have changed and returning to the post bothers him much less now, according to Lahmanovitz.

Lahmanovitz claimed Deri's apparent change of heart is "natural and human," because no minister wants to be limited by "conditions."

He said that people are to be judged based on the legal standards, and that if Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein approved the process, then his appointment should be acceptable.

In approving the appointment, Weinstein in fact said that despite the lack of legal difficulties, it is inappropriate given Deri's previous history.

"The Ministry that he (Deri) will come across today is not the same Ministry he left," said Lahmanovitz. "The Interior Ministry deals with internal problems a lot less." He noted several responsibilities recently removed from the Ministry, such as the firefighting services, weapons licenses and more.

Saying that the post's "authorities are very small," Lahmanovitz said returning to the position "closes a circle" for Deri.

"Deri knows he has one opportunity to be a good Interior Minister for Israel, and if he misses it there won't be more opportunities," he said. "In this Ministry the focus on him is a lot stronger, but he knows that."