Moments after the High Court of Justice disqualified its leader from holding ministerial office, the Shas party released a statement accusing the court of making a “political” decision that undermined the will of Shas’s 400,000 voters.
“Today, the court effectively ruled that elections are meaningless. The court’s decision is political and tainted with extreme unreasonability,” reads the statement.
A recidivist financial offender, Shas leader Aryeh Deri was most recently convicted of tax offenses last January, and left the Knesset as part of a plea deal in which he vowed to retire from political life. Instead, he reentered the Knesset on top of Shas’s 11 seats in November, and in December, the coalition fast-tracked legislation to smooth his way into holding the interior and health ministry posts.
“The entire Shas movement is appalled by the arbitrary and unprecedented decision of the High Court of Justice, in contravention of law and justice, and sees it as a serious violation of the right to vote and to be elected, which is the lifeblood of democracy,” the Shas statement continues. The party also pledges to weigh its next steps, promising to consult with its guiding rabbis as to how to address the court decision.
Earlier this month, Justice Minister Yariv Levin proposed legislation to cancel the reasonability test under which the court has nixed Deri’s appointments, and the ruling will likely pressure the coalition to accelerate this, or another solution, to restore Deri’s status as a minister.
The decision also comes in the context of a broader Shas-backed judicial reform fight, a culmination of decades of the Mizrahi Haredi party lamenting overreach by a court that does not reflect its way of life.
“Broad sections of Israeli society today feel excluded by the court,” Shas’s statement reads.