Bill to ban police recommendations moved to its own sponsor’s committee

Bill to ban police recommendations moved to its own sponsor’s committee

Over protests by Jewish Home coalition MKs, contentious legislation handed over to MK David Amsalem’s purview

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Likud MK David Amsalem leads the Interior Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK David Amsalem leads the Interior Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A bill that would bar police from offering indictment recommendations to prosecutors will be revised in a Knesset committee chaired by the very Likud lawmaker who wrote it: MK David Amsalem.

The Knesset’s House Committee on Monday voted 9-7 to transfer the proposed legislation to the purview of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environmental Affairs Committee, helmed by Amsalem.

The move was opposed by Jewish Home lawmakers, who sought to keep the bill in the Knesset’s Constitution, Justice and Law Committee, chaired by its own MK Nissan Slomiansky.

Likud MK David Bitan, the coalition chairman, who, along with Amsalem, has been advancing bills to curb police authority, said the Constitution, Justice and Law committee was “very busy, and therefore we ask to move the bill to the Internal Affairs Committee.”

Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky during a vote on the so-called Regulation Bill to legitimize illegal West Bank outposts, December 7, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Slomiansky protested the decision, saying the bill — as it dealt with criminal law — should fall under his committee’s oversight. “There is no reason in the world for it to be moved,” he said.

The legal counsel of the House Committee stressed that she opposed diverting the bill to Amsalem’s committee, though she added that there were no legal grounds to obstruct the move.

In the committee, Amsalem is expected to resist sweeping revisions to the bill, which is opposed by police, the state attorney, and the attorney general.

The contentious proposal cleared its preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum with 52 lawmakers in favor, 42 opposed, last Wednesday.

Although police don’t recommend outright whether to file indictments, they do provide prosecutors with a summary that notes whether there is sufficient evidence a crime was committed. The proposed bill is widely understood as an attempt to prevent officers from influencing the prosecution’s decisions on indictments.

The proposed legislation would impose a one-year prison term on police investigators who violate the directive. In its future revisions, the bill was expected to ban police summaries in investigations overseen by a state prosecutor — as is the procedure for probes involving public officials.

The bill was seen as an effort by a loyalist Likud lawmaker to limit the public fallout in the event police form an evidentiary basis against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the corruption probes into his affairs.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) have reportedly expressed reservations about the bill and have conditioned its advancement on the approval of their respective ministries.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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