September 27, 2023

During the first half of the government’s term, Aryeh Deri will serve as Health Minister and Interior Minister.

Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party reached an agreement with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party regarding the latter’s roles in the next government, according to an early Thursday morning announcement.

According to the agreement reached, during the first half of the government’s term, Shas chairman Aryeh Deri will serve as Health Minister and Interior Minister. Then, in the second half of the government’s tenure, he will serve as Finance Minister, replacing far-right Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich.

Additionally, the ultra-Orthodox party will receive the Religious Services, Welfare and Social Security Ministries. Shas members will also serve as the Education Ministry and Interior Ministry ministers.

Deri, who will also serve as Deputy Prime Minister throughout the term of the government, said that the Shas negotiating team continued discussions “on the ideological and value issues relating to education, Jewish identity, strengthening tradition and observing Shabbat in the public sphere.”

Netanyahu said following the agreement, “I thank my partner, Rabbi Aryeh Deri, for forging the agreements. Tonight we completed another step on the way to establishing a right-wing government that will work for the benefit and well-being of all the citizens of the State of Israel.”

However, the designation is not set in stone, as the Shas leader has a criminal record that could prevent him from serving as a minister. According to Article 6 of Israel’s Basic Law, individuals sentenced to prison can not serve as ministers for seven years.

Deri resigned from the last parliament as part of a plea deal that saw him admit to minor tax offenses and pay a fine in exchange for a suspended sentence of one year. Therefore, the new government will have to pass legislation allowing lawmakers to be given sentences to become ministers, which Netanyahu intends to do.

Netanyahu is also set to ask Israeli President Isaac Herzog for an extension when it comes to building a coalition. According to all estimates, the president will grant the prime minister-designate the full maximum extension, which is an extra 14 days.

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