Knesset Rejects Bills Limiting Officials' Right to Silence

The Knesset on Wednesday rejected two bills aimed at limiting the right to silence of public officials.

The proposal submitted by MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) was rejected by a majority of 38 to 31.

A similar proposal submitted by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) was also rejected by a majority of 33 to 28 MKs.

MKs Pines-Paz and Gal-On submitted the proposals after MK Omri Sharon (Likud) and other public figures exercised their right of silence during recent police investigations into alleged wrong-doings. Pines-Paz told the Knesset when presenting his bill that prime ministers, cabinet ministers, Knesset members and heads of local and regional councils should be required to answer police questioning without exercising their right of silence.

Pines-Paz also proposed that a prime minister's term in office be terminated within 30 days should he refuse to answer investigator's questions on election related offenses.

In a recent discussion held by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for legislation, a representative of the attorney general's office told the panel that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz opposes passing a bill that will penalize public figures for exercising their right of silence. It is a basic right given to every person brought to trial, he added.