Israel's General-Attorney opposes appointment of ex-convict as minister-Xinhua

Israel's General-Attorney opposes appointment of ex-convict as minister

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-01-05 04:13:15

JERUSALEM, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Israel's General-Attorney on Wednesday announced her opposition to the appointment of an ex-convict lawmaker for cabinet minister, an appointment that was crucial for forming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right coalition government.

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara told the Supreme Court in a statement, a copy of which has been seen by Xinhua, that the appointment of Aryeh Deri -- the veteran leader of the ultra-Orthodox party of Shas who was convicted of tax fraud -- as senior minister is not reasonable.

The appointment "radically deviates from the sphere of reasonability," she wrote, adding that Deri's career has involved "a repeated disobedience to state laws and criminal prohibitions, that is a repeated pattern of violation of the rule of law."

Baharav-Miara said she will not be defending Deri in court against appeals submitted to the Supreme Court against his appointment as interior minister and health minister, because of her opposition.

The Supreme Court, Israel's top court, is scheduled to begin on Thursday the discussion on three separate appeals against Deri's appointment.

Deri responded with a public statement, rejecting Baharav-Miara's stance as a "personal vendetta" against him. He said he was "confident" that the Supreme Court will allow him to serve as a minister.

Baharav-Miara's statement marks a major conflict between the new government, the most conservative and extreme-right in Israel's history, and the Israeli legal system, which the new government has vowed to reform.

Deri was convicted in early 2022 of tax fraud and received a 12-month suspended sentence, which made him ineligible to serve in a ministerial position under Israeli law. On Dec. 27, 2022, days ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of the new government, the parliament passed an amendment that cancels that ban, enabling Deri to be sworn-in.

It was not the first time that Deri was convicted of criminal offenses. In 2000, he was sentenced to three years in prison for bribery, fraud and breach of trust during his term as interior minister in the 1990s. Deri was released after serving 22 months in prison.

However, his conviction did not pose an obstacle to his political comeback in 2013, when he retook the reins of the Shas party. According to Israeli law, a person can be appointed as a minister seven years after he finished serving his prison sentence.

In the election in November last year, Shas won 11 seats in the 120-seat parliament, making Deri an indispensable member of Netanyahu's coalition government, which holds 64 seats.