Shas’s David Azoulai Headed for Religions Ministry

May 14, 2015  

This is, apparently, the final list of portfolios for Shas’s men: Shas Chairman, MK Aryeh Deri, will be Minister of the Economy, the Negev and the Galilee; MK David Azoulai will be Minister for Religious Affairs; MK Yitzhak Cohen will be Deputy Finance Minister; MK Meshulam Nahari will be Deputy Education Minister; MK Yaakov Mergi will chair the Knesset’s Education Committee, and MK Yitzhak Vaknin will be Deputy Knesset Speaker.

MK Yoav Ben Tzur will be Shas Faction Whip, instead of ex-MK Avraham Michaeli, who did not make it into the 20th Knesset. However, sources in Shas said that Azoulai may resign from the Knesset in order to let Michaeli enter it in his stead. He will serve as minister without being an MK.

A source in Shas told Arutz Sheva that the decision to place Azoulai at the head of the Religions Ministry was taken after Netanyahu received a legal opinion from the Attorney General and Legal Advisor to the Government, Attorney Yehuda Weinstein, according to which Deri should not be appointed a minister in the government.

Weinstein said that while there is no legal obstacle preventing the appointment of Deri to the position of minister, it would be difficult for Weinstein to defend the appointment if it is challenged in the High Court, since Deri has a criminal record and served jail time for serious corruption, which took place when he was minister.

Shas said in response that it “receives with satisfaction the opinion of the Legal Advisor to the Government, which expressly states that there is no legal hindrance to appointing Movement Chairman, Rabbi Aryeh Deri, as Minister of Economics. One must commend the decision to respect the voter’s choice, and what is more – the events that formed the basis for those processes took place 30 years ago.”

The Ministry for Religious Affairs was hotly contested between Shas and the Jewish Home. Haredi control of the ministry has meaningful implications as far as appointments to rabbinical positions and other religion-related jobs. On the other hand, the Jewish Home controls the Education Ministry, which also controls large budgets that go to religious education, among other things.

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