Israel passes controversial law limiting police powers
December 31, 2017

The Parliament of Israel passed a controversial law on 28 December 2017, limiting the police's ability to recommend charges following their investigations after criticism that lawmakers were seeking to protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The law will, however, not apply to current investigations, which means that graft probes involving Netanyahu will not be affected. The move was undertaken after widespread criticism and large protests against corruption.

Key Highlights

• The Members of the parliament approved the bill by a close vote of 59-54, which took place on 27 December following two days of marathon debate.
• Under the law, the police will no longer be able to recommend to the attorney general whether or not to charge suspects at the conclusion of an investigation.
• The new law requires the attorney general to ask for police input.
The changes in the legislation were brought in by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in the beginning of December 2017 post criticism by opponents that the law was designed to help the leader survive the ongoing corruption investigations against him. His call came after thousands of people protested against corruption.
Pros
The law will prevent the public smearing of those being investigated before the attorney general decides how to proceed with a case.
Cons
According to critics, the law was proposed by Netanyahu’s supporters and it was initially designed to protect him as he awaits the completion of police enquiries.

Background

The Police are investigating the nation’s PM over suspicions that he received expensive gifts from wealthy supporters as well as over allegations that he sought a secret deal for favourable coverage with a newspaper publisher.

In another investigation, allies of Netanyahu have been questioned by the police as part of a separate probe into the purchase of German submarines. Netanyahu though has not been named as a suspect in the investigation.