Citing Past Crimes, Lapid Calls on Netanyahu Not to Appoint Dery as Minister

Shas chairman served two years for fraud and bribery while serving as minister.

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Shas MKs Arieh Deri (L) and Ariel Attias (R) in the Knesset. April 7, 2014.
Shas MKs Arieh Deri (L) and Ariel Attias (R) in the Knesset. April 7, 2014.Credit: Emil Salman

Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to appoint MK Arye Dery as a minister in his new government, citing the Shas chairman’s fraud and bribery conviction in 2000.

Lapid wrote on his Facebook page, “Mr. Prime Minister, you won the election well. If that is what the majority chose, that is what should happen and right now we all must return to work for the sake of the State of Israel. But stop for a moment. Are you content with the idea that you will appoint as a senior minister – who is responsible for budgets measured in billions – a man in whose conviction the judge wrote: ‘The picture of corruption that was revealed in the evidence was damning. This is not a case of a singular failure by a young man who has been exposed to the pleasures of rule, but someone who continuously based his lifestyle on [receiving] bribes. The taking of bribes was spread over the five years in which the accused filled national positions Five years of bribery during which the accused sought rapid personal wealth by making a fortune from filling national positions.’”

Lapid concluded by urging Netanyahu, “Do not abandon in such a man’s hands the public coffers, Mr. Prime Minister. The money belongs to all of us.”

Dery was convicted for taking bribes during his time as a minister in the 1980s and early 1990s, before being forced to resign from government in 1993. He served two years of a three-year sentence.

This is the second time since last week’s Knesset election that Lapid has appealed to Netanyahu via his Facebook page against his expected decisions. Although he has not said so officially, Lapid is apparently indicating that he is destined for the opposition and these are his first steps in objecting to the prime minister’s actions.

Last Thursday, Lapid threatened that if Netanyahu tries to increase the number of cabinet ministers above 18, he will petition the High Court of Justice. Lapid shared on his Facebook page an article claiming that Likud is considering expanding the cabinet and wrote, “The government must not be allowed to exceed 18 ministers. This is your money. These are hundreds of millions of shekels that could go to day care and lowering prices. Netanyahu voted in favor of this law [limiting the government to 18 ministers], together with all of Likud. What is their excuse this time? Political comfort? Job arrangements? This is corruption and we will fight against it in the Knesset, and if necessary in the Supreme Court. What do they think, that if the elections are over the struggle has ended? It’s just beginning.”

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