By a vote of eight to five, the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, headed by MK David Amsalem (Likud), on Wednesday approved the “Recommendations Law” for its second and third (final) readings in the Knesset plenum, pending a request for a new debate on the bill.
In its final version, the bill states that in high-profile criminal cases involving politicians and public officials, police will be barred from issuing comments on whether or not there is an evidentiary basis for an indictment when handing over the material to prosecutors.
The bill also empowers the attorney general, state prosecution, or other prosecutors, to seek police input on the evidence, should they deem this necessary.
Earlier versions of the bill sought to impose a one-year jail sentence on leaks from investigators in ongoing cases, but the final version merely refers to the existing clause in the penal code, which is yet to be enforced, imposing three years’ imprisonment on investigators for leaking.
Should it be approved, the police recommendations law would not apply to existing cases, such as the corruption investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Coalition Head MK David Bitan (Likud).
Both Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit criticized the bill. The commissioner argued that the police does not make recommendations but encloses an executive summary with the investigations’ findings it hands the prosecution, where investigators evaluate the quality of the evidentiary material in terms of its chances to win a conviction.
“We should be allowed to execute our professional assignments,” Alesheikh argued.
Incidentally, as soon as the bill had passed his committee, Chairman Amsalem said that the police commissioner’s salary should be cut. MK Amsalem has been nursing a grudge against the police for years, ever since he was picked up on suspicion of forging registration forms for the Likud.
Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (Likud) on Wednesday told Army Radio he would not permit the witch hunt being conduct by members of his own party against the police and its commissioner.