Aryeh Deri
Aryeh DeriYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Shas chairman, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, responds to the reaction of Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara regarding the petitions against his appointment to the position of minister.

"I welcome the response of Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara which spread over dozens of pages, refuting the false claims heard against me in recent weeks, according to which I misled the court. The attorney-geneal confirms in her answer that I never committed to withdrawing from political life permanently, that I did not violate the plea agreement, and I did not deceive the Court by resigning from the 24th Knesset," Deri wrote on his Twitter account.

He added, "I trust in the Almighty, I believe in and trust the Supreme Court in Jerusalem which will convene tomorrow with an expanded panel of 11 judges, who will hear the voices of over 2 million Israeli citizens, including 400 thousand Shas voters who want to see me serve as a minister in the Israeli government."

"I am confident that the Supreme Court will allow me to continue working to reduce the gaps in society and will put an end to the campaign of persecution against me and my family that has been going on for over six years. These were excruciating years of difficult investigations of me and my family, years of heavy suspicions against me that, in the words of Attorney General Dr. Avichai Mandeblit, 'the mountain did not even give birth to a mouse.'"

Earlier, Attorney General Baharav-Miara submitted her position to the Supreme Court concerning the reasonableness of MK Deri's appointment as Interior and Health Ministers in the 37th Knesset and the amendment of the qualification clause in the Basic Law: The Government. The amendment modified the legal situation so that the Electoral Commission is now authorized to examine whether a person's conviction disqualifies eligibility only if sentenced to actual imprisonment as opposed to a suspended sentence.

According to Bahar-Miara, these petitions raise weighty issues concerning the authority of the Knesset to enact and amend basic laws and the standards and considerations relevant to the appointment of a minister in the government.

Regarding the amendment of the legislation, Bahar-Miara says that the petitions in this regard should be rejected. This is because of the way in which the ruling developed, opening up the legal possibility for invalidating basic laws due to misuse of Knesset authority and it does not allow the court to intervene in the amendment of the basic laws.

The Attorney General’s Response

According to the Attorney General, as expressed during Knesset discussions by her representatives, the amendment is not intended to solve a general problem, but to change the legal consequences of a criminal conviction on the tenure of a minister, and to allow a certain member of the Knesset, who was convicted by law, to be appointed to the position of minister, without the question of moral turpitude being examined by the chairman of the election committee.

Following this, it was clarified that the authority of the Knesset to enact basic laws was not intended to regulate individual matters of Knesset members while changing the "rules of the game" after the elections.

According to Bahar-Miara and according to the Supreme Court ruling, the clear conclusion in the circumstances of the matter is that Der’I’s appointment to a ministerial position radically exceeds the scope of reasonableness.

She points out that in 2015 and 2016 the Supreme Court already determined that Der’i's appointment as a minister was on the edge of the realm of plausibility, even though, at that time, 13 years had passed since the last conviction. However, the additional conviction for committing two criminal offenses, in February 2022, brings means that the current appointment crosses the realm of reasonableness and this is the starting point of the legal discussion.

Other important details were taken into account, including the Attorney General’s view that Der’i's actions were subject to moral turpitude. The amendment of the qualification provision in the Basic Law was intended to eliminate the need to examine the issue of moral turpitude in light of Der’i's criminal conviction as a condition for his appointment as minister.

The Justice Ministry states that the Attorney General’s position takes into account the length of time that has passed since the governmental corruption offenses were committed, and therefore they are given a low weight.

On the other hand, weight is given to the fact that this was not a "one-time incident" but a repeated pattern of committing crimes, most of them during his tenure in public office or soon before his return to political life. This instructs the public regarding his attitude to the rule of law.

According to her office, the bottom line is that the decision to appoint Der’i as minister does not give sufficient weight to the seriousness of a situation in which a member of the Knesset once again commits scandalous offenses, and does not show integrity and respect for the rule of law expected of those holding government positions.

The state's answer was submitted through the director of the Supreme Courts Department at the State Attorney's Office, Attorney Haner Hellman, and Attorneys Moriah Freeman, Matan Steinbuch, and Netta Oren from the High Courts Department at the State Attorney's Office.