Deri, Arye (1959–)

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DERI, ARYE (1959–)

Former Knesset member and minister of Internal Affairs. Born in Morocco in 1959, Arye Deri was educated at the Porat Yosef Talmudic College and the Hebron Talmudic College in Jerusalem. He was a founding member and secretary (1981–1983) of the Maale Amos settlement and in 1984 a founding member of the SHAS (Sephardi Torah Guardians) Party. He held various posts, including senior adviser to the minister of the interior (1985), secretary-general of the SHAS Party (from 1985), secretary-general of the Internal Affairs Ministry (from 1986), and minister of the interior. As the leader of SHAS, Deri formed a close alliance with Benjamin Netanyahu. In 1999 Deri was charged and convicted of using the Interior Ministry in the 1980s to illegally direct government funds to SHAS Party projects in local municipalities, personally receiving $155,000 in bribes. He began a four-year prison sentence in September 2000 but was granted early release in 2003. Some SHAS supporters continued to claim that Deri had been wrongfully accused and convicted.