General

Israel’s Netanyahu removes interior minister after court order

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sacked Health and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri after the High Court found him unfit for the post.

"As is known, I decided to appoint you as Deputy Prime Minister and Interior and Health Minister with the approval of the majority of Knesset members due to the fact that I see you as an anchor of experience, intelligence and responsibility that are important to the State of Israel at all times, and especially at this time," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Deri, which he read during his Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu described the court order as an "unfortunate decision" and "ignores the will of the people."

On Wednesday, the High Court said that Deri's appointment as minister was "extremely unreasonable" both due to his criminal past and to the fact that he intentionally misled a court approximately a year ago when he promised that he would not rejoin politics, in order to receive a lenient plea bargain on tax offenses.

Between 2000 and 2002, Deri spent 22 months in prison while being interior minister on accusations of receiving bribes.

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated against Netanyahu’s government in recent weeks over plans to overhaul the judicial system.

Netanyahu's government was sworn in on Dec. 29 following elections in November which gave his right-wing bloc a simple majority to form a new government.

* Writing by Ahmed Asmar

Source: Anadolu Agency