The Supreme Court in Israel has opposed the appointment of a member of the new government. The leader of the strictly religious Schas party, Arie Deri, cannot retain his post as Minister of the Interior and Health, the judges ruled on Wednesday. The judges classified the appointment as “inappropriate”. Civil rights activists had previously lodged a complaint about his criminal past. The verdict is seen as a serious blow to the new government of re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Deri has been convicted several times, most recently in 2021 for tax evasion. In order to be able to appoint interior and health ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing religious government, a law was specifically amended. He would later become Minister of Finance under a rotation arrangement.

It is feared that the new justice minister, Jariv Levin, could accelerate his plans to weaken the Supreme Court as a result of the court ruling. In the past few weeks, tens of thousands of people in Israel have taken to the streets. Another large demonstration is planned in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

According to the plans, a majority in parliament should be able to pass a law even if the Supreme Court considers it to be in violation of the Basic Law. Levin also wants to change the composition of the panel that appoints judges. He accuses the Supreme Court of excessive interference in political decisions.

Deri was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000 for bribery, corruption and embezzlement, even while he was Interior Minister. In 2013 he made a political comeback. In 2021 he had to resign from his position as a member of parliament due to new tax offenses and was given probation as part of a settlement. He had assured the court that he wanted to get out of politics.