Netanyahu says new law limiting police in criminal investigations won’t apply to him

If passed, a proposed law that limits police involvement in criminal investigations would not apply retroactively to probes involving the prime minister.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he has instructed MK Dudi Amsalem “to ensure that the law be drafted in such a way that it would not apply to the investigation that is being conducted against me.” The reason for this approach is so that the law could not be used “for political propaganda,” said Netanyahu.

Notwithstanding such assurances, the opposition has voiced harsh criticism of the law since it was proposed, arguing that it was formulated specifically to protect the prime minister from police recommendations to prosecute him in one or more of the cases that have dogged him for months.

The Recommendations Law, which is coming up for a second and third reading in the Knesset on Monday, limits the police’s ability to recommend that a person who is being investigated will eventually be prosecuted, relegating the police’s role to providing a summary of the hearings it has conducted. This reflects the position that prosecutors are better suited to determine the chances of conviction, as opposed to the police.

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It will also bar police investigators from publicizing information or leaking conclusions to the media. However, a reporter publishing such information will not be punished as long as the material does not endanger state security.

Proponents of the law say that especially the provision regarding the media would help protect the reputations of thousands of people whom police investigate but whose cases are closed for various reasons, such as lack of evidence.

As reported in Ynet, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) stressed that this bill has been in the works for a long time, and is not simply a reaction to the current troubles of the prime minister.  “We began working on the bill 17 years ago. I don’t believe that recommendations ought to be publicized. I don’t deny that the timing is problematic, but the bill was submitted two years ago,” he said.