Haredi Party Leader Reaches Plea Deal for Tax Offenses, Will Resign From Knesset

According to the deal, Shas chairman Arye Dery will admit to tax offenses, resign and pay a large fine – but will be able to run in the next election

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
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Shas chairman Arye Dery in the Knesset, in June.
Shas chairman Arye Dery in the Knesset, in June.Credit: Danny Shem-Tov / Knesset Spokesperson
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

Shas party chairman Arye Dery reached a plea deal with the state on Wednesday, under which he will admit to tax offenses and resign from the Knesset.

Dery's resignation would make it unnecessary to rule whether the former interior minister's acts constituted moral turpitude. If they had been found to constitute such unethical behavior, Dery would be barred from public office for seven years. By leaving the Knesset and not going to trial, he will be able to run for election in the next Knesset.

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According to the deal, which was negotiated between Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Dery's attorney, Navot Tel-Zur, the ultra-Orthodox lawmaker will have to pay a 180,000 shekel ($56,850) fine, but will not serve jail time.

The sides are expected to officially sign the deal on Wednesday night or on Thursday. After they do so, the agreement will be brought before the court, which needs to approve it. Although Mendelblit decided against ruling on the issue of moral turpitude, the court still has the authority to decide whether Dery's acts constituted as such.

The draft indictment outlines three dealings. The first is a real estate deal made in 2013 between Dery and his brother, where the minister allegedly falsely registered an apartment building under construction in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Sha'ul as a vacant plot of land and backdated the contract.

In the two other cases, Dery is said to have transferred payments he received to his brother and to a non-governmental organization he was associated with, allegedly in order to avoid paying taxes for them.

The investigation into Dery has lasted six years. His hearing was held in February, and negotiations between the Tel Aviv Prosecutor's Office and Dery's attorneys has been ongoing since. Mendelblit has faced public criticism for not ruling on the case.

The sides faced two major disagreements over the course of the negotiations. The first concerned the crimes of which Dery is suspected, and how the indictment he would admit to would be worded. The second related to whether he would serve a suspended sentence. Even so, a suspended sentence does not necessarily mean the acts constituted moral turpitude.

Dery has served time in the past. In 1993, when he was acting as interior minister, he was accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and forced to resign. He was indicted in 1999, and in 2000, began a three-year prison sentence, which was later shortened to two years due to good behavior. A few years later, he returned to politics.

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