Attorney General to Netanyahu: Would Be Difficult to Defend Dery's Cabinet Appointment

Shas chairman's criminal record poses no legal obstacle to appointment, but would make it difficult to defend to Supreme Court, Weinstein says in legal opinion sent to PM.

Dudu Bachar

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it will be difficult to defend the appointment of Shas MK Arye Dery to a cabinet position to the Supreme Court, considering his criminal record.

"I reached the conclusion that the current legal situation can be interpreted as not posing a legal obstacle to appointing Dery as a minister in the government," Weinstein wrote in a legal opinion sent to the prime minister.

"However, it is a decision that raises legal difficulties, considering Dery's criminal record, and the damage it might cause to the public's faith in the regime's integrity and in its proper conduct," Weinstein added.

The attorney general referred to a petition filed with the court questioning the appointment, saying that he "must emphasize to (Netanyahu) that difficulties will also arise in defending it."

In his concluding remarks, Weinstein added that given Dery's criminal past, "the possibility that his appointment to a specific ministerial position would raise further difficulties cannot be ruled out." Finally, Weinstein said that the legal opinion must not be misconstrued as "public, moral or any other form of approval for Dery's intended appointment."

In his legal opinion, Weinstein also approved Kulanu MK Yoav Galant's appointment as housing minister, noting that this case as well may lead to legal difficulties, due to Galant's own past record, which barred him from serving as IDF chief of staff due to the illegal expansion of his home. Weinstein said that the affair points to improper conduct on the ethical and public level on Galant's part, though "it poses no legal obstacle" to his appointment. 

The Movement for Quality Government has filed two appeals against the appointment of Dery and Galant to the attorney general. The state is expected to issue its response to the appeals within the next week.

The Shas party said in response that it "welcomes with satisfaction the AG's opinion which clearly states that there is no legal obstacle to appointing party chairman Rabbi Arye Dery as economy minister."

Dery was the interior minister between 1988 and 1993, but was forced to resign by the Supreme Court because of an indictment filed against him. He was eventually convicted of taking a bribe, fraud and breach of trust, and served two years in prison. Lately, there has been criticism against his appointment to a cabinet position.