The State Attorneys’ Organization held a warning strike on Thursday in response to a preliminary reading of a bill that transfers the Police Investigations Unit from the State Attorney’s Office to the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigation Department and allows it to investigate state attorneys.
The organization, which claims to represent 1,100 attorneys in the State Attorney’s Office and in the public sector, on Wednesday said after the so-called Saada Law’s reading that the attorneys would come to work only at 10 a.m.
If the government continued to take unilateral moves to change the terms of employment, conditions and status of state attorneys, the organization would have to take collective labor action, said its chairman, Orit Korin.
"The law's preliminary passing today means removing an entire department and all its employees from the prosecutor's office and transferring it to an administrative and non-professional authority," said Korin. "In addition to this, the bill works to create a body that will investigate attorneys in criminal investigations and not by the Israel Police, when this unit will be subordinate to the [justice] minister."
Criticisms of the law
Likud MK Moshe Saada, a former deputy head of the Police Investigation Unit, proposed the bill. On Wednesday, he told the Knesset plenum its objective was to counter a conflict of interest. The police work closely on cases with the State’s Attorney’s Office, he said, adding that the office had prevented investigations into some officers.
Nonetheless, the organization argued that it was "a serious and one-sided attack on attorneys and attorneys' offices and a desire to threaten them while fulfilling their public duties."
Tensions rose between the State Attorneys’ Organization and the Justice Ministry following Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposal of judicial reforms in early January.
As part of Levin’s proposed restrictions on government legal representation, the Prime Minister’s Officer, rather than the Attorney-General’s Office, would potentially choose who represents the state.
The organization had warned about a labor strike over concern that the reform would bypass current work agreements.
Eliav Breuer contributed to this report.