Public security minister vows to stymie bills that would impact police work
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Public security minister vows to stymie bills that would impact police work

Gilad Erdan calls for calm amid tensions over legislation to ban officers from recommending indictments

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends an Internal Affairs committee meeting in the Knesset, October 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends an Internal Affairs committee meeting in the Knesset, October 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan vowed Tuesday to block the passage of any legislation that hinders police work, and called for law enforcement to be kept out of political squabbles.

Speaking at a security conference at the Nahal Sorek Regional Council that was also attended by Police Chief Roni Alsheich, Erdan called for calm amid recent tensions over a bill to prohibit police from including recommendations at the conclusion of investigations.

“I will not allow the advancement of legislation that could impact the work of the police,” he said. “In Israeli democracy, there is great importance for the Israel Police to be an independent body, impartial and detached. In the same way, there is in Israeli democracy a commitment to a legislature that oversees the executive branch, and oversees also the Israel Police. The balance between authorities should be maintained.”

The bill, proposed by Likud MK David Amsalem, passed a first reading in the Knesset plenum this week.

The legislation faces opposition from Alsheich and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. As part of increasing public pressure on police by supporters of the bill, Amsalem also said last week that he would seek to lower the police chief’s wages and raise those of the prime minister. Coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud), while backing the police investigation bill, quickly declared he would not support altering the wages and claimed Amsalem had not presented any such proposal.

Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich attends a committee meeting at the Knesset on July 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The bill is part of a spate of recent legislative efforts by coalition politicians that critics say are aimed at making it harder for prosecutors to charge public officials. It comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being investigated in two corruption cases.

Netanyahu has also criticized Alsheich, accusing the police chief of deliberately leaking information from the investigations against him.

Speaking to reporters at the conference, Alsheich said he still wasn’t sure what the bill aimed to achieve.

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.

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