Deri returns to scene of crime, 22 years later
TWENTY-TWO years after an indictment forced him to leave the Interior Ministry, Aryeh Deri, the first Israeli minister to serve time for bribe-taking, was reappointed Interior Minister on Sunday.
The leader of Shas was poised to return to the powerful ministry last year when Benjamin Netanyahu formed his new government — but, at the last minute, took the Economics Ministry instead.
He resigned from the post two months ago following differences with Mr Netanyahu over regulation of the natural gas industry. Last month, in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations which forced then-interior minister Silvan Shalom to resign, h e a c c e p t e d the prime
Aryeh Deri minister’s offer. State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan is understood to have said that in light of Deri’s criminal record, he should be disqualified from serving in the post.
However, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ruled that sufficient time had elapsed since Mr Deri’s conviction and incarceration, and that there were no legal problems arising from the decision.
The Interior Ministry wields considerable power over Israel’s local authorities and is in charge of immigration policy.
Mr Deri is expected to concentrate on the issues of municipal border changes, which can drastically change the fortunes of poor local authorities, particularly those in the Arab sector.
He will also have to implement government policy with regard to asylum-seekers and the future of the Ethiopian Falashmura.