Prosecutorial Oversight Bill to Be Decided by Israeli Cabinet Forum on Sunday

The bill provides for a pilot program in which oversight of the prosecutorial system is separate from that of individual prosecutors.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at the Knesset, February 8, 2016.
Emil Salman

The commission that oversees the country’s prosecutors will have legislative backing, in terms of a new bill sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. The bill will be voted on by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Up till now, the commission, whose current structure has been a source of dissatisfaction for prosecutors, has functed by virtue of a cabinet decision.

According to the notes accompanying the bill, oversight by the commissioner would continue in its current format during the first year after the legislation comes into effect. The current commissioner, retired Judge Hila Gerstl, would continue to be responsible for handling complaints about both the prosecutorial system as a whole and individual prosecutors.

The commission would be split in the second year. System oversight would be handled internally, subject to the attorney general’s authority, while Gerstl would continue to be responsible for reviewing complaints against individual prosecutors, including police prosecutors.

After the two years are up, the justice minister would decide which of the two models should become permanent.

Shaked’s bill was prompted by tension in the Justice Ministry over the work of Gerstl’s commission, which was established by a resolution of the cabinet and not Knesset legislation. The prosecutors threatened to strike if oversight of the system and the conduct of individual prosecutors continued to be supervised by one entity, but Gerstl has said splitting the functions would gut the commission. Her commission has agreed to the pilot program, however.