Knesset opposition challenges law barring police from recommending ‘high profile’ indictments

The government-sponsored ‘recommendations law’, barring police from recommending indictments of high-profile suspects after wrapping up their investigations, passed into law after a 43-hour Knesset filibuster. The opposition rushed to petition the High Court.

By Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

The Yesh Atid party and the Movement for Quality government were at the High Court of Justice the moment it opened on Thursday morning to challenge the controversial ‘recommendations law’ only hours after it was passed into law. The bill passed its second and third readings by a vote of 59 in favor and 54 opposed after a 43-hour filibuster.

The Knesset was effectively paralyzed for the past two days, and Knesset members were obliged to sleep in their offices as coalition and opposition members remained fully mobilized throughout the legislative marathon.

The law prevents police from recommending to prosecutors whether there is enough evidence to indict suspects it has investigated. Originally, the bill was designed to prevent police from making recommendations in the ongoing corruption investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Due to strong objection, the coalition was forced to have the law apply only to future cases, so it will not impact Netanyahu probes or those relating to former coalition chair David Biton, Labor Minister Haim Katz or Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

Leading Political Scientist Prof. Avraham Diskin told World Israel News (WIN), “This was a redundant law that will have very little practical effect. It was clearly designed in an effort to derail the corruption case against Netanyahu. Once the law no longer relates to ongoing cases, it is no longer relevant. Unfortunately, the coalition had to continue with the façade. They had said it was not about Netanyahu, and so they had to continue to push until it was passed.”

Diskin said that the opposition’s decision to take the matter to the High Court is also a game. “There is nothing unconstitutional about this law, it’s really just a law about nothing.”

‘The 27th of December is a black day’

Critics charged that the new law will damage law enforcement and protect corrupt politicians from public exposure and could hamper and muzzle investigators and intimidate the police. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog described it as “a law of shame and weakness.” Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said, “The 27th of December is a black day in the annals of the struggle against crime and corruption.”  Gabbay vowed, “A government under me will annul the recommendations law.”

The law passed just weeks ahead of expected police recommendations on Netanyahu’s corruption cases. In case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy friends. In case 2000, the prime minister allegedly took part in a quid pro quo deal with the Yediot Aharonot publisher for more positive coverage. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in both cases.

Member of Knesset Nahman Shai (Zionist Union) told WIN that in his view, the ‘recommendations law’ will never be implemented. “The law was unnecessary and a waste of time and energy,” he said. “Netanyahu has been in power for too long. Many of his aides are apparently deeply involved in corruption. I have nothing against him personally, but too much time in power is not helpful. I am in favor of a two-term limit. Many recent Likud-sponsored bills should never have been raised. They have lost perspective on how the majority should behave in a democracy.”

Furthermore, According to Shai, “The Knesset passed an anti-moral law that hopelessly distorts the principles of justice and transparency. The purpose of this law is to hamper the Israel Police’s investigations. It may be on the books but it will never be implemented.”