Sunday, February 5, 2023

Netanyahu ousts coalition government after court ruling

TEL AVIV, Israel ( Associated Press) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ousted a key ally of his government on Sunday. The decision complied with a Supreme Court order and deepened the divide over the power of the courts.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the Israeli president fired Interior and Health Minister Aryeh Deri. The court had concluded that Derry could not serve in cabinet because of his conviction the previous year for tax offences. Netanyahu announced the decision at a meeting of his government.

The court’s decision came amid a debate in Israel over the power of judges. Netanyahu’s far-right government wants to strip power from the Supreme Court, limit judicial oversight and give more power to politicians. Critics say the initiative undermines a system of checks and balances and threatens Israel’s democratic foundations.

According to his office, Netanyahu told Deri that he was removing him from office with a “heavy heart and great sadness”.

“This unfortunate decision ignores the will of the people,” Netanyahu told Deri. “I intend to find some legal way for you to continue contributing to the State of Israel.”

Derry said he would continue to lead his party and help the government advance its agenda, including legal reform.

Derri’s ouster is also expected to shake up Netanyahu’s coalition government, backed by ultra-nationalist and ultra-conservative parties including Derri’s ruling, the third largest group in the government. Although some governing MPs threatened to quit the fledgling coalition following the court ruling, the government is expected to survive Derry’s absence and seek to introduce legislation that would pave the way for his return in the short term.

Netanyahu is expected to name other members of the governing body to replace Deri, at least for the time being.

The Netanyahu government, the most conservative in Israel’s history, has prioritized reform of the Israeli judiciary. They claim that an imbalance of power has given judges and government legal advisors too much influence over legislative initiatives and governance.

The plan has drawn strong criticism from prominent legal officials, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, former lawmakers and tens of thousands of Israelis who have repeatedly come out to oppose the reform.

In a significant move to solidify the ruling coalition, Israeli lawmakers last month amended a law that bars a prisoner from serving as a cabinet minister. This cleared the way for Derry to join the government, but appealed to the Supreme Court.

Derry has faced legal problems in the past. When he was interior minister in the 1990s, he was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000 for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He spent 22 months in jail, but later resumed his career.

Nation World News Desk
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