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Israel appoints interior minister who served time for corruption

Israeli cabinet has approved Arieh Deri as the new minister of interior, despite his prison record. Deri, the leader of the ultra-Ortodox Shas party, had spent two years in jail for taking bribes.

The government confirmed Deri's appointment on Sunday, after his predecessor Silvan Shalom

resigned over multiple allegations

of sexual harassment.

The 56-year-old leader of the far-right party had already served as Israel's minister of interior from 1988 to 1993.

In 2000, a court found Deri guilty of taking $155,000 (around 142,000 euro) in bribes and sentenced him to three years in jail, but his sentence was subsequently shortened to a two-year term due to good behavior.

Deri eventually returned to politics in 2009. He managed to reach a ministerial post once again in May 2015, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put him in charge of Israel's ministry of economy.

However, Deri

resigned from the function in November,

after refusing to push through with a controversial deal on exploiting Israeli gas fields. His resignation allowed Netanyahu to personally take the reins of the economy ministry and overrule the veto by Israel's anti-trust authorities.

On the 'limit'

Commenting on Deri's newest appointment, attorney general Yehuda Weinstein said the move was legal, but also "on the limit of what's appropriate."

The officials of the interior ministry are in charge of overseeing local governments and combating illegal migration, but not the Israeli police, which is coordinated by the Ministry of Public Security.

Deri's Shas party is a key ally in Netanyahu's right-wing government, which holds a one-seat majority in the parliament.

dj/gsw (AFP, dpa)

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