(photo credit: screenshot)
Police Commissioner Insp.- Gen. Roni Alsheikh defended the police for creating a report listing all allegations against politicians, despite criticism from members of the Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday.
Alsheikh answered the committee’s questions about the “Yitzhaki Document,” named for the police’s Investigations and Intelligence Branch Asst.- Ch. Meni Yitzhaki. Police compiled the file on politicians’ suspected crimes and corruption in 2014 on Yitzhaki’s orders.
According to Alsheikh, the centralized document was for internal use to ensure that no information the police came across about the Knesset’s 120 MKs fell through the cracks, and that all relevant information was passed on to the attorney-general.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein sent a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit asking him to finish looking into the document as soon as possible and release a public statement as to its nature. Edelstein expressed concern that the leak of the document’s existence undermines the Knesset, and implies to the public that all its members are suspected of crimes.
Interior Committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud) pointed out that the police have great power, and therefore, it must make sure to wield it carefully.
“I was shocked by the reports about this document,” Amsalem said. “I don’t think it was created maliciously, but there is always potential for misuse.”
Alsheikh said that he is aware of the police’s great power, and that “anyone who doesn’t understand that he has such tremendous power is dangerous.”
Therefore he plans to make sure that the police use its authority appropriately.
Still, Alsheikh posited that the police were justified in compiling the document, saying it was put together to ensure that everything that needed to be reported to the attorney-general and the State Attorney’s Office was passed on in a systematic manner.
The report was written shortly after a corruption investigation of former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer began, just as he was running for president.
It turned out the police had relevant information in its databases that it had not used.
“The head of investigations has to create a monitoring system, because there is an instruction to report all information to the attorney-general and State Attorney’s Office,” Alsheikh explained. “If there is a commitment to report information, but it didn’t reach his table, then he won’t know about it. Without monitoring, the information won’t go anywhere.”
Yitzhaki said, “The report was written in order to follow the attorney-general’s instructions.
I had to do it.”
Alsheikh repeated that the document was created for a specific point in time to review all information relating to politicians that the police had in its databases.
“Could there be a different monitoring method? We are looking for one, together with the attorney-general... We understand the sensitivity,” Alsheikh said.
MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) said that the problem is not that the police have information about politicians. The danger is in gathering all that information into a single document, rather than in separate files, then it appears that the police are specifically threatening politicians, he said.
MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) said that while she does not think the police are trying to frame anyone, the document only adds to the public’s mistrust of politicians.
“If there’s something there, follow through with it. If not, announce that there’s nothing, and shelve the material,” she suggested.
MK Amir Ohana (Likud) said this is not a matter of Right or Left, and there is a legitimate concern about such information being used to hurt political rivals.
“If the police received information and investigated, that’s fine. But if it only uses it when someone is running for a position or does things the police’s top brass doesn’t like, then...
it reminds us of dark times to which none of us want to return,” he said.
According to the Knesset Members Immunity, Rights and Duties Law of 1951, an MK will not bear criminal or civil responsibility for any act which he performed in the fulfillment of his duty. The police may only open a criminal investigation of an MK if the attorney-general authorizes it to do so.