Knesset passes “police recommendations” law protecting corrupt government officials from police evidence
“The law prevents police, upon wrapping up their investigations and handing over the files to prosecutors, from commenting on whether there is an evidentiary basis for indictment.”
The Knesset early Thursday morning voted the so-called police recommendations bill into law after a filibuster by the opposition that paralyzed the parliament for two days.
The controversial legislation, which will not apply to the two corruption cases into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was approved in its second and third readings with 59 lawmakers in favor and 54 opposed.
The opposition Yesh Atid party announced it would petition the High Court of Justice on Thursday against the legislation.
The law prevents police, upon wrapping up their investigations and handing over the files to prosecutors, from commenting on whether there is an evidentiary basis for indictment. It will apply only to probes of public officials and other high-profile cases.
However, the amended version of the law by Likud MK and coalition chairman David Amsalem also states that the attorney general, state prosecution, or other prosecutors may seek police input on the evidence, should it be deemed necessary.
The law will not apply to open cases, including the ongoing investigations into Netanyahu, a graft probe into former coalition whip David Bitan, and investigations involving Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas).
Critics say the law is designed to protect corrupt politicians from public backlash, muzzle investigators, and curb police authority. Proponents, meanwhile, argue the police recommendations — once leaked to the media — cause irreparable damage to the suspects’ reputations and only rarely result in an indictment by prosecutors.
“The recommendations law is a fight between a culture of democracy and a culture of corruption,” said opposition leader Isaac Herzog in his speech wrapping up the filibuster. “This law is not merely a law of shame, but a law of weakness.”
The law was passed as police gear up to issue recommendations on Netanyahu’s two corruption cases. The prime minister is suspected of accepting pricey gifts from billionaire benefactors and of cutting an alleged quid-pro-quo with a newspaper publisher for more favorable coverage. The prime minister denies wrongdoing in both cases.
The final hours of the rowdy debate were fraught, with coalition and opposition lawmakers frequently descending into screaming matches.
Ahead of the final votes, security guards intervened when it appeared Likud MK Oren Hazan and Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi were heading toward a physical altercation. He called her a “terrorist,” commented on her appearance, and said no one would offer even a “two-footed goat” for her hand in marriage; she called him a “trafficker of women into prostitution,” before both were escorted out of the hall.