June 5, 2023


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Netanyahu dismisses the minister in compliance with the order of the Israeli Supreme Court

Netanyahu dismisses the minister in compliance with the order of the Israeli Supreme Court

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sacked a senior member of government with a criminal record to comply with a Supreme Court ruling even as he pursued contested judicial reforms that would limit its powers.

Netanyahu vowed to find “all legal means” to keep Aryeh Deri in public office in the future, and Netanyahu told him he would be fired from the interior and health ministries during the weekly cabinet session, according to an official minutes.

Barak Siri, a close confidant of Deriyeh, told Army Radio earlier Sunday that the ministerial portfolios would be held by other members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party as it remains in the coalition.

The Supreme Court last week ordered Netanyahu to fire Deri, citing his 2022 plea bargain conviction for tax fraud.

The ruling has sparked a stormy debate in Israel – accompanied by nationwide protests – over reform proposals that Netanyahu says will rebalance branches of government but critics say will undermine the independence of the judiciary.

A poll in the Israel Hayom newspaper showed that 35% support Netanyahu’s attempt to change the system of appointments to the bench, while 45% of the respondents oppose it. There was only 26% support for his government’s attempt to enable parliament, by a single vote, to override some Supreme Court decisions.

In his government’s statement, Netanyahu described Al-Dari’s ruling as “unfortunate” and “indifferent to the will of the public.”

The month-old religious-nationalist coalition has sprung up elsewhere as a far-right partner boycotted a cabinet session to protest the demolition of a small Jewish outpost in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

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Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, ordered the outpost’s demolition because it did not have a building permit – despite the objections of the religious Zionist party, which sought to delay the decision.

The incident pitted Gallant against religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich, who holds some cabinet responsibilities for West Bank settlements under a coalition agreement with Netanyahu.

“These (settlements) are a key issue for our participation in the government,” Minister of National Envoys Orit Struck of Religious Zionism told Radio Kan. She declined to say what steps the party might take next.

In solidarity with religious Zionism, the far-right coalition party Yehud Power said it would demand Israel carry out a long-delayed evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian Bedouin camp in a key area of ​​the West Bank near Jerusalem.

World powers have urged Israel not to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, fearing another possible blow to efforts to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Most countries consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal.

Writing by Dan Williams Editing by Raisa Kasuluski and Frances Kerry

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