JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed a top minister from office Sunday following a Supreme Court ruling against Aryeh Deri's appointment which has shaken the nascent cabinet.

“It is with a heavy heart, with great sorrow and with an extremely difficult feeling that I am forced to transfer you from your position as a minister in the government,“ Netanyahu told Deri during a cabinet meeting, according to a statement from the premier’s office.

Leader of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish party Shas, Deri was appointed health and interior minister last month as part of a coalition deal following Israel's November 1 elections.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Netanyahu “must remove Deri from his position” due to a tax evasion conviction last year.

The veteran politician relinquished his parliamentary seat at the time. The judges said Deri made it appear as if he had intended to resign from politics to get a lighter sentence, but he ran for office again in the November polls. - AFP