Netanyahu Fires Rabbi Deri ‘With Heavy Heart’ Following Court Ruling

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seen during the Cabinet meeting, next to Rabbi Aryeh Deri, on Sunday. (GPO)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fired Rabbi Aryeh Deri on Sunday afternoon, following the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu stated that the firing comes with “a heavy heart” and “great sorrow.” The prime minister also continued that he would find a “legal way” for Rabbi Deri to continue serving the State of Israel. The dismissal takes effect in 48 hours, meaning Netanyahu will have to find new ministers to take over Rabbi Deri’s responsibilities. This also means that Deri’s tenure as both health minister and interior minister lasted just 26 days.

This comes following a Wednesday High Court ruling that disqualified Rabbi Deri from being a minister. Then, following the court ruling, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara informed the prime minister that Deri must be fired immediately.

Netanyahu referenced these decisions during his speech to Deri: “This unfortunate decision ignores the will of the people, as reflected in the great trust that the public gave to the people’s representatives and their elected officials in my government, when it was clear to everyone that she would serve in the government as a senior minister.”

The letter of Netanyahu to Deri.

Deri attended Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, sitting next to the prime minister. During this meeting, Netanyahu did not fire Deri – as many predicted he would – but instead congratulated the former health minister on his progress with the “health basket” that includes many new medications and treatments for Israeli citizens. Netanyahu did not address the High Court’s ruling regarding Deri at all.

Rabbi Deri responded to Netanyahu’s speech by stating he “hears the sadness in his voice.”

“I can tell my friends in the government and the public that it was clear to the prosecution and it was clear to the previous attorney general, Dr. Avichai Mandelblit, that I have no intention and have never had any intention and I have not committed to withdrawing from political life,” Rabbi Deri continued. “Things were clear on the table from the beginning of the contacts to their end. The words were also said by a representative of the High Court’s Department at the hearing.”

“I have an iron commitment to the 400,000 people who voted for me and Shas. No judicial decision will prevent me from serving them and representing them.”

United Torah Judaism leader Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf said that he and his party will continue to treat Rabbi Deri as a minister, despite him being fired.

“UTJ will work as much as it can and will be a partner to any move to quickly return him to the government table,” said Rabbi Goldknopf in a statement. “In terms of our ministries, Rabbi Deri will continue to be the [health and interior] minister and that’s how we will relate to him.

“I have heard from the Prime Minister that at the Security Cabinet meetings, his wisdom is expressed in a way that significantly influences and contributes to the security of the country.

“UTJ will act as much as it can and will be a partner in any move to quickly return Rabbi Deri to the government.”

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