Yesh Atid petitions against Ben-Gvir Law: Police can't become political

The petition argued that Ben-Gvir's law is in contradiction with the principles of separation of state powers.

 MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Jerusalem, July 11, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Jerusalem, July 11, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

The Yesh Atid political party joined petitioners against National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s police ordinance law with its own submission to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday morning.

Yesh Atid joined petitioners against National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Police Ordinance Law, submitting its own objection to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday morning.

The “Ben-Gvir Law” establishes the police as subordinate to the government and enshrines the national security minister’s ability to set policy and general principles for law enforcement. The petition argued that it is in contradiction with the principles of separation of state powers. 

The law would allow Ben-Gvir to set policies for investigations after consultation with the attorney-general, the police commissioner and relevant officers. According to Yesh Atid, it would constitute a violation of human rights and fundamental state principles by allowing for investigations to be driven by political or partisan animus.

“It can’t be allowed that the police be made political,” said Yesh Atid. “Thanks to the amendment to the ordinance, for the first time the state will have political actors that wield the highest authority to activate powers and tools against Israeli citizens and distinguish between its enemies.”

The petition, filed by former Knesset speaker Mickey Levy and former deputy minister of public security Yoav Segalovich, argued that while the amendments were incomplete and Ben-Gvir had further changes to the law to implement, the situation was already unconstitutional.

 Ben Gvir gestures during an Otzma Yehudit rally, October 23, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Ben Gvir gestures during an Otzma Yehudit rally, October 23, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

“Thanks to the amendment to the ordinance, for the first time the state will have political actors that wield the highest authority to activate powers and tools against Israeli citizens and distinguish between its enemies.”

Yesh Atid

“We’re speaking about a major legal amendment that was done quickly and without understanding all the meaning and consequences of the law – just because of Netanyahu’s weakness,” said Levy and Segalovich. ”We have no intention of standing by while Israeli democracy is trampled.”

The Movement for Quality Government also has thoughts

In its own petition filed immediately after the vote on the law, the NGO Movement for Quality Government in Israel criticized the “hasty manner” in which the amendment was passed, saying that the way the law violated democratic principles and the independence of the police and would damage public trust and the legitimacy of the police.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter Thursday to Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara and the legal adviser to the Knesset demanding they prevent the amendment’s approval. Adalah argued that The Basic Law: The Government prohibits a minister from assuming judicial powers, and the amendment allowed the national security minister quasi-judicial abilities.

The NGO also argued against the purpose of Ben-Gvir’s pursuit of the amendment – to alter the rules of engagement and investigation policies in a manner that would result in greater police violence against Palestinians and other minorities in Israel.

Ben-Gvir’s police amendment was passed 61 to 55 last Wednesday. The attorney-general, the Knesset and Ben-Gvir have until January 22 to file responses to the petitions.

Eliav Breuer contributed to this report.