Netanyahu investigations bill gets green light for first Knesset vote

Controversial proposal seen as favoring Netanyahu to head to first reading in Knesset on Monday.

The Knesset building (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Knesset building
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Legislation that could impact the outcome of the ongoing investigations into alleged corruption by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to get a first reading in the Knesset on Monday, after it received ministerial approval on Sunday.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill, which would prohibit police from making recommendations whether to indict at the end of investigations that have an accompanying state prosecutor, meaning the state’s highest-profile cases.
Opponents argue that the bill is meant to limit the authority of police as it completes investigations into allegations against Netanyahu, a charge that Likud MK David Amsalem, who proposed the bill, has not denied. Amsalem has repeatedly said the bill will prevent many Israelis – including Netanyahu – from being smeared in the press.
“Tomorrow will be a fateful and important day that can bring hope, and mostly justice to tens of thousands of citizens who have the mark of Cain – of a recommended indictment – on their forehead,” Amsalem said. “On the way, they lose their whole world until the State Attorney’s Office makes a decision about them.”
Amsalem said he “has no doubt that, in the end, everyone will understand the great importance of this bill.”
The second part of the bill deals with prosecuting those who leak details of investigations to the press. The ministers conditioned their approval on amending the bill to remove a clause that would have ordered the attorney-general to investigate such leakers.
The Knesset Interior Committee, which Amsalem heads, is expected to meet on Monday morning to change the bill, leaving it to the discretion of the attorney-general whether or not to investigate such individuals.
Last week, coalition chairman David Bitan forced fellow Likud MK Bennie Begin out of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee, putting himself in Begin’s stead, because Begin expressed qualms about the bill.
Begin said the bill should not apply to cases that are already open – such as those involving Netanyahu.
“The original intention was disrupted – to prevent thousands of people from being under suspicion,” Begin said. “This was disrupted because of good intentions, to prevent ‘legal torture’ of those who the police recommend not to indict, but we are now left only with the cases [which have] an accompanying state attorney – 200 cases a year. This means that compared to the intention of the original bill, it now does not respond to 99.9%.”
Kulanu faction chairman Roi Folkman also voiced opposition to the bill. “We can’t change the rule for investigators in the middle of an investigation because it will hurt their professional work,” he said. “We propose that the law only apply to investigations that begin after it goes into effect, as MK Begin proposed. We are also willing to accept a proposal to postpone the bill’s implementation for a reasonable amount of time.”