Allowing National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to set policy for the Israel Police is against the rule of law, Arab-Israeli human-rights NGOs said Thursday in a petition to the High Court of Justice.
The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel joined previous petitions against the so-called Police Law, saying it damages the rule of law by politicizing the police force.
The ability of the national security minister to set police policy was a broad power that could be abused to influence a large variety of police operations, the petitioners said.
In March, the High Court barred Ben-Gvir from giving operational orders to the police. After Ben-Gvir issued orders to the police for dealing with judicial reform protesters, Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara said he had crossed the line with his mandate for general policy and principles.
The petitioners said the original version of the law would have subjugated the police commissioner and matters of investigations and prosecution to the discretion of the national security minister. The law had been split into two laws, and the second half, with more controversial elements, was being prepared in committee for second and third readings.
The politicization of police puts Arab-Israelis at risk - NGO
Allowing the Ben-Gvir more control of the police created greater risk for Arab-Israelis due to alleged animus toward the sector, the petitioners said.
The attitude of the police toward Arab and Palestinian populations and the failures to address crime in the Arab sector were already serious issues, but the amendment would make the issue more serious, they said.
Ben-Gvir’s politicization of the police against Arab populations was evident from police action in response to the display of Palestinian flags at the judicial reform protests, they said.
In January, Ben-Gvir ordered the police to remove Palestinian flags from being flown in public spaces.
“I have issued instructions for the removal of the flags, which support terrorism, from the public space and to stop incitement against the State of Israel,” Ben-Gvir said at the time.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.