Law giving Ben Gvir expanded powers passes in Knesset, paving way for Netanyahu regime

“Ministers, members of the Knesset, we made history for the State of Israel, for a strong state, for safety in the streets,” the firebrand MK stated.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Knesset passed a law Wednesday handing the incoming national security minister more control over the Israel Police, paving the way for the Likud to present its new government to the legislature on Thursday.

The so-called “Ben-Gvir” Law, named for the soon-to-be minister who heads the Otzma Yehudit party, was approved 61-55 after an all-night filibuster by the upcoming Opposition parties.

“Ministers, members of the Knesset, we made history for the State of Israel, for a strong state, for safety in the streets,” the firebrand MK stated.

The members of the outgoing coalition had claimed that the law would hand too much control over the ins and outs of police work to the minister and turn the law enforcement agency into a political tool.

The chair of the committee that formulated the bill, MK Ofir Katz (Likud), denied this allegation, stating, “The minister will not be able to say which offense to investigate and which not, he will not be able to decide who to investigate and who not. [He] will not be able to interfere in the details of a particular investigation. There will be no selective enforcement and there will be no extraneous considerations in the police investigations.”

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The law enshrines the minister’s right to outline police policy and supervise its management procedures and operation, as well as overseeing its expenses.

Since the law’s critics are sure to appeal it in the Supreme Court, two issues were deleted that were deemed most problematic: one that sets the extent to which the police commissioner is subordinate to the minister, and another that deals with the time allowed for the police to investigate its cases. These will be dealt with in a separate bill after the government is sworn in.

Three more laws were passed in all four of their readings over the last few days to satisfy other coalition members’ demands. The two that aroused the most controversy are amendments to the Basic Law: the Government.

The “Deri” Law defines a suspended jail sentence as not being an impediment for someone to serve as a minister. This will allow Shas leader MK Arye Deri to serve first as the Interior Minister and, in two years’ time, become finance minister in an agreed rotation with Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich. Deri had been handed a suspended sentence as part of a plea deal for tax offenses.

The “Smotrich” Law will allow one to serve as a minister within a ministry, rather than merely as deputy minister. Smotrich had demanded this authority so that he could directly oversee important issues for his constituency in Judea and Samaria from the Defense Ministry.

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He will control the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) as well as the Civil Administration, which Jewish residents of Area C have long accused of discriminating against them while acting in favor of the Palestinians.

With these legislative hurdles out of the way and the signing of all coalition agreements, the path to a new government is clear. After sealing the deal Wednesday with the last of his partners, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We have achieved our goal. A huge percentage of the State of Israel, over two million Israelis, voted for the national camp led by us.”

“We will establish a stable government for a full term,” he vowed.