A bill to transfer the Attorney-General's investigative and prosecutorial powers against government officials to the State-Attorney will be withdrawn after the Likud party said it would not support the legislation, bill initiator Likud MK Eli Dalal said on Thursday.
In light of unwillingness to advance it in the Knesset at this time and a true and honest desire for talks, compromises and reaching agreement with opposition members, I decided to withdraw the bill," said Dalal. "I am hopeful we will know good and united days and we will reach broad agreements regarding the balances required between authorities."
The Likud party had said on Wednesday night after the bill had been registered that it was not backed by the coalition heads and would not be advanced.
"The bill was not coordinated with the heads of the coalition and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu was not involved in it," said the Likud. "Bills of this type will not be promoted without the approval of the heads of the coalition and therefore it is not on the agenda."
The private bill submitted by 11 Likud Knesset members including Amit Halevi, Boaz Bismuth, and Tally Gotliv was submitted to the Knesset secretary weeks ago, said the Likud. The bill also stipulates that it would only come into effect in the following Knesset.
The proposal would transfer powers of investigation and prosecution against government officials from the Attorney-General's Office to be the sole discretion of the State Attorney's Office. The text didn't make it clear if the State-Attorney would become a separate entity, or would stay under the Attorney-General's Office -- though the name of the legislation is "bill to split the position of the Attorney-General."
The wording also seems to imply that only criminal law enforcement against government officials would be removed from the Attorney-General's responsibilities, not all criminal law enforcement supervision.
"The bill was not coordinated with the heads of the coalition and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu was not involved in it,"Likud
What does the bill's explanatory notes say?
The bill's explanatory notes said that the Attorney-General's roles as the government's lawyer and adviser put them in constant cooperation with the government and ministers, but at the same time had the power of indicting their close acquaintances.
Those with that power should be kept at a distance to ensure objectivity and public trust in the decision. The role of a legal adviser is also harmed by the dual-role, said the bill, as it harmed the working relationship and trust between them and government officials.
The Student Protest movement responded to the bill by alleging that the motivation behind its submission was to cancel Netanyahu's ongoing corruption trials.
"Two days after they passed the first coup d'état law despite half of the people's cries of dissent, a day after they tweeted and gave speeches saying 'we are brothers' and called for broad agreements, hours after the president's speech saying that the responsibility lies with those who hold the reins of power, on the night of Tisha Be’av they submit a law designed to harm in the Attorney-General," said the protest movement.
On Tuesday, Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara issued an unprecedented legal opinion that called for the striking of a basic law amendment that she said was passed to improve Netanyahu's personal legal situation after violating his conflict of interest agreement for his corruption trials.
The altering of the roles of government legal advisers has been a part of the judicial reform debate, and in recent months coalition members have attacked the Attorney-General as being political and operating against the government.