At the first meeting of his government following the Supreme Court ruling that Aryeh Deri was unfit to hold public office, Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported as having said to Deri:
“It is with a heavy heart, with great sorrow and with a very bad feeling that I am forced to remove you from office.” He contended that the Supreme Court decision “ignored the will of the people”.
Shas, it should be recalled, won just 8.25% of the vote in the last election according to the Central Elections Committee. By what stretch of the imagination is that “the will of the people”?
In any event, the question is not about whom has the right to be elected, but what actions should bar such a person from holding public office? Bibi’s criticism of the Supreme Court for ignoring “the will of the people” is to suggest that that should have taken precedence over the rule of law and order.
What Bibi should have said is: “Aryeh Deri, you are not worthy of holding public office in a democratic Jewish state. I know that there are many people who voted for you, but to be a minister in our government you need to be a person of integrity and a law abiding citizen.
“Not only were you found guilty in 1999 of charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust while you were serving as a lawmaker and cabinet minister, but in spite of spending time in prison, you did not mend your ways.
“Only last year you were convicted of tax offenses after pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain that also entailed your resignation from the Knesset.
“As a consequence of your behaviour, it is inconceivable that a person of your character should serve as a minister in my government.”
Netanyahu himself faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. However, Aryeh Deri has already been found guilty, not once but twice. Doesn’t Bibi understand that such a felon has no place in government? He shouldn’t need a Supreme Court ruling to understand that.