Getting nervous? Former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri's announcement that he would be returning to politics has apparently made at least several Knesset members nervous enough to lunch a legislative bid meant to keep him out of the House.
A political meteor in his early days, Deri was considered one of Israel's most powerful men. His retirement from political life was forced by a 1997 criminal conviction and a subsequent prison sentence.
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Deri was released from prison in 2002. In 2008 he attempted his first dip back in the political pool, by announcing he would vie for Jerusalem's mayorship. His candidacy was contested in court and he eventually dropped out of the race.
Shas, which Deri one directed, was also unhappy with the announcement, calling him "a megalomaniac who can't admit he wants to head Shas once more."
Many politicians are concerned that Deri's undisputed charisma may take away much-needed votes from their own parties, and they are determined to nip his attempt in the bud.
MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Yariv Levin (Likud), Marina Solodkin (Kadima) and Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) have band together in a bill saying that any man convicted of an offence carrying moral turpitude and who served one year or more in jail – as Deri has – would be banned from national politics for life.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, a draft of the bill, dubbed the "Deri law," was brought before the government once before, but was vetoed by Yisrael Beiteinu and United Torah Judaism, who opposed applying it retrospectively.
The bill stands to be revised slightly and presented to the cabinet again, as the four MKs say it is meant to "restore the public's faith in the political system."
Those opposing it, however, say it was tailor specifically to stop any political bid by Deri.
"Deri's return to political life resurrects corruption in the political arena. A person convicted of corruption and moral turpitude performed while in public office should not be considered worthy of it again," Hotovely said.
Deri's associates, however, dismissed the move, saying: "Those promoting such a bill are simply afraid and they know what from."
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