The Knesset passed on Monday evening, November 27, the first reading of a bill which will bar police from recommending whether charges should be filed against public officials. The vote was 46 MKs in favor of the bill versus 36 who voted against it.
The proposed bill would prevent police from recommending to the Attorney General’s Office whether or not to indict a suspect in cases being handled by an accompanying state attorney, unless the Attorney General specifically requests such a recommendation from the police. Cases accompanied by a state attorney are usually high-profile ones, like the one currently involving PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Earlier on Monday, the Knesset’s Interior Committee voted 9 to 6 in favor of MK David Amsalem’s (Likud) proposed bill that would block the police from commenting on whether a certain investigation has enough evidence to justify an indictment. The bill also specifies that if a leak occurs in such a case, the source of the leak would face up to a year in prison.
Communist MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List) voiced his objection to the bill. “The public has the right to know what the police think. The norm should call for the publication of such a [police] recommendation, and not punish whoever leaks it.” Khenin directed his criticism directly at the bill’s sponsor, Amsalem. “What’s going on here is one of the most brilliant moves ever, Dudi [David Ansalem], it really is.” Not to be outdone, Amsalem facetiously replied, “Are you really crediting me with such cleverness?” “You’re covering for the prime minister,” answered Khenin.
Khenin and additional members of the committee further objected to Amsalem’s latest draft of the bill, saying that by adding a clause that prohibits leaks of a police recommendation to indict, the bill’s essence has changed, and as such the committee should be allowed to review it again.
When asked what the Prime Minister’s Office’s Chief of Staff, Yoav Horowitz, was doing in his office prior to the committee session, Amsalem replied, “He’s preparing schnitzels and salad.”