Jan. 24 (BP) — Ousted Israeli cabinet member Aryeh Deri on Tuesday selected two members of his party to temporarily fill his roles as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to return him to office.
Deri, the leader of the Shas Party who Netanyahu removed from the cabinet after the Israeli High Court of Justice deemed him ineligible, appointed Religious Affairs Minister Michael Malkieli to his role as interior head and Yoav Ben-Tzur, as health minister as his dismissal formally took effect on Tuesday.
Malkieli and Ben-Tzur can only serve as acting ministers for three months before a permanent appointment is made. A spokesman said that Deri will maintain his honorific title as vice premier.
Netanyahu on Monday pledged that Deri will return “where he belongs, as soon as possible” as the entire coalition attended a Shas Party meeting on Monday where he criticized the high court’s ruling, which he said went against the will of the voters.
“Harm has been done to the principle of the will of the majority, and we must fix this,” he said.
The High Court of Justice had ruled that Deri could not serve in a ministerial office because of past economic crimes and going back on a promise to never return to politics.
Netanyahu on Sunday moved to dismiss Deri with “a heavy heart” after Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara urged him to heed the court’s ruling.
Deri also criticized the court, saying it had not indicated his appointment would be disqualified despite the fact that it was “discussed for a full month.”
“No one warned the prime minister that he was working under an ‘extreme lack of reasonableness,” he said.
Former prime minister and opposition leader Yair Lapid said the Israeli government is hurt by not having a full-time minister and Netanyahu needs to move away from Deri because of his past misdeeds.
“The citizens of Israel deserve a full-time health minister and a full-time interior minister,” Lapid said. “The Israeli public does not need to pay the price for Netanyahu and Deri’s shady deals and legal problems. This is a disgrace. It is a real blow and disregard of the government ministries and of the public.”