Deri Withdraws from the Knesset as Part of Tax Offense Plea Arrangement

In recent news, the chairman of the Shas party in the State of Israel, MK Aryeh Deri, revealed that he is going to be withdrawing from his position at the Knesset. On Sunday, he gave in his resignation, which was a condition set forth in the plea bargain he accepted. Part of the arrangement also called for him to plead guilty to committing a couple of tax offenses while allowing him to prevent being barred from public office in the future. The MK took to personally delivering the letter to Mickey Levy, a speaker of the Knesset. It was further revealed that the resignation of the chairman will come into effect two days after being submitted. 

Where the party is concerned, Deri will continue to represent them but his position at the Knesset will be taken up by an up-and-coming candidate on the list of Shas. Sources have revealed that Deri is likely to be replaced by a former MK, named Yosef Taeib, who currently chairs the French language activities of the party. As per the terms of the plea agreement signed in the previous month, the party chairman had to resign from his position at the Knesset. Moreover, he was also required to admit that he had not reported his income in two cases and pay NIS 180,000 as a fine. 

The plea agreement, on the other hand, does not include a moral turpitude clause for the MK, given that he will have withdrawn from his position as a public official when he is convicted. If such a clause had been added in the bargain, Deri would have had to step away from life in the government for no less than seven years. In the previous week, an appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, which had been filed by a lobby group in Israel, namely the Movement for Quality Government. The members of the group made sure to voice their disapproval for the plea deal, demanding that the conviction include a clause for moral turpitude. 

The petition presented by the Movement for Quality Government further alleged that it is the duty of the state to request that the court convict the Shas party chairman of moral turpitude for the crimes he has committed. However, the Supreme Court sent the petition back, saying that the plea deal does not have to be amended. It also ruled that if Deri attempted to return to public office in the future, then its decision could be changed after discussions. 

Meanwhile, the court has not formally granted approval for the plea deal. It is expected that the agreement will go through at the end of the month and was being held due to the petition made to the Supreme Court. From the year 2000 to 2002, Deri was forced to serve no less than 22 months in prison. He had been convicted of accepting bribes during his tenure as the interior minister. The verdict at the time had also included a clause for moral turpitude. 

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