Supreme Court 1 – Benyamin Netanyahu 0. After four days of demonstrations of friendship and brave declarations, the Israeli Prime Minister finally complied, on Sunday January 22, with the opinion of Israel’s highest court, by resigning from his functions the number two of his government, the ultra-Orthodox leader Arié Déri. A decision taken “with a heavy heart and with great difficulty”, he said during the Council of Ministers, but for which he had no other choice. Keeping it in government control would have been illegal.
On January 18, in a punchy decision, the Supreme Court invalidated the appointment of this 63-year-old Israeli figure, convicted several times of tax evasion in 2021 and who had promised in early 2022 to retire from political life. Ten out of eleven judges considered that his appointment was “in serious contradiction with the fundamental principles of the rule of law”.
“We will come back through the window”
An opinion all the stronger since Arié Déri was promised two big ministries: the interior and health, a position commensurate with his loyalty to Netanyahu and the 400,000 votes collected by his ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party. Shass, during the November legislative elections. Arié Déri, who intends to remain at the head of his party, is an old hand in Israeli politics. Already several times minister, he knows that his party and its 11 deputies are able to make or break coalitions.
His case had been debated for several weeks, to such an extent that the deputies of the Knesset had to vote in a hurry for a text, dubbed the “Déri law”, allowing an individual convicted of a crime, but not sentenced to prison, to become a minister.
If he goes against the grain behind the opinion of the Supreme Court, Benjamin Netanyahu, himself tried for corruption in a series of cases, does not give up his arms against an institution that his cabinet openly hopes to weaken. “The High Court’s decision ignores the will of the people, and I am trying to find every possible legal way to allow you to contribute to this country,” he told his longtime ally on Sunday. date. “If they (us) close the door, we will come back through the window. And if they close the window, we will go through the ceiling,” Arie Deri said on January 18.
100,000 protesters in Tel Aviv
This first political crisis, barely three weeks after the inauguration of the government, occurs in the midst of a showdown with the highest judicial body. Several ministers have been on an open crusade for years to “castrate” this institution which serves both as a Constitutional Court and as a second Chamber, in the absence of a Senate.
A government project, described as an “unbridled attack” on justice by the President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut herself, provides in particular for the introduction of a “derogatory” clause allowing Parliament to stay the decisions of the high court with a simple majority vote. It would also give politicians control over the process of appointing judges.
Some 100,000 people – a record in three weeks of weekly mobilization – marched on Saturday January 21 in Tel Aviv to denounce the policy of the new government combining right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, including this overhaul of the judicial system, which they consider harmful for democracy and symptomatic of an illiberal drift.
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