Netanyahu complies with decision and dismisses minister amid crisis with Supreme Court

Netanyahu complies with decision and dismisses minister amid crisis with Supreme Court

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed one of his ministers, thus complying with a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court amid a crisis with the judiciary over a proposed reform in the area.

Committing to finding “all legal means” to keep Aryeh Deri in public office in the future, according to an official transcript of the weekly meeting of the government cabinet, Bibi, as the prime minister is known, announced the departure of his ally from the leadership of the Interior and Health portfolios.

Barak Seri, a confidant of Deri, told Army Radio on Sunday (22) that the ministries would be kept in the hands of members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party, which will remain in the governing coalition.

Last week, the Supreme Court ordered Netanyahu to fire Deri due to a previous conviction for tax fraud – he confessed to the crime last year, as part of a deal to escape prison. The decision provoked an intense debate in Israel, followed by protests across the country, over the controversial proposed judicial reform that would allow, among other measures, the Israeli Parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions through a simple majority vote.

A survey by the newspaper Israel Hayom showed that 35% of respondents support the prime minister’s project to change the system of appointments to the court, while 45% are against the proposal. Only 26% are in favor of the idea that the Knesset, the country’s Parliament, can override court decisions.

Also according to the transcript of the meeting, Netanyahu described the Supreme Court decision as “regrettable” and “indifferent to the public will”. The religious-nationalist coalition suffered another split as it saw a far-right ally boycott the cabinet meeting in protest against last Friday’s demolition of a small settler outpost that had been erected in the occupied West Bank.

Defense Minister Yoav Galant, a member of the premier’s Likud party, ordered the post to be demolished for not having a building permit – over objections from the Religious Zionist party, which tried to delay the decision. The incident pitted Galant against Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the party, who made some controls over settlements in the West Bank conditional on participation in Netanyahu’s coalition.

“Settlements are a crucial issue for participation in government,” said Minister for National Missions, Orit Strock, of Religious Zionism. She declined to detail what steps the party might take.

In support of the party led by Smotrich, the acronym Otzma Yehudit (Jewish power), also part of the ruling alliance and also of far-right positions, said that it will demand the long-delayed evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian Bedouin camp in an important area of the West Bank near Jerusalem.

Global powers urged Israel not to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, fearing another possible blow to efforts to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state. Most of the international community considers Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank to be illegal.

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