Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has fired a top minister in his cabinet after the Supreme Court ruled that he was unfit for the position.
“It is with a heavy heart, with great sorrow and with an extremely difficult feeling that I am forced to transfer you from your position as a minister in the government,” the Prime Minister told Aryeh Deri, who was the country’s minister for health and interior, on Sunday.
The top Court ruled that Aryeh Deri, who was minister of health and interior, could not serve as a cabinet member after he was convicted for tax offences last year. The judges, in their judgment, said at the time he was initially sentenced, he made it look like he was resigning from politics so he could get a lighter sentence.
He was fined 180,000 shekels ($50,000) for the tax offences and relinquished his seat in parliament. He later returned to run for office in the November election. The judges said it would be “extremely unreasonable” to allow him to serve as a minister.
Mr Netanyahu, who is the longest-serving Prime Minister, criticised the court for ignoring “the will of the people” and vowed to find every legal way for the sacked Minister to “contribute to the State of Israel.”
One of the top agendas for Netanyahu’s government is to weaken the powers of the Judiciary by giving more powers to lawmakers in appointing judges and overriding decisions of the Supreme Court.
On Saturday, thousands of protesters stormed the streets of Tel Aviv to protest the so-called reforms in the Judiciary. They believe such reform will give too much power to the lawmakers, and that the Prime Minister’s actions and those of his cabinet members could go unchecked.
Since Israel is without a constitution, the Supreme Court has the authority to repeal laws it considers to be unreasonable or discriminatory. Many believe reducing such powers when there is no constitution would be dangerous for the country.
The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is currently facing trial at the Supreme Court for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. For some, weakening the powers of the Court would be the easiest way out for him, hence the protest.