The bill that would have prevented the police from publicizing their recommendations about indicting public figures was born only because of the corruption investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, MK Miki Zohar (Likud) said.
- After Public Outcry, Netanyahu Backtracks on Police Silencing Bill
- Despite Criminal Probe Into Suspected Bribes, Netanyahu Ally David Bitan Won't Quit Israeli Knesset
- Behind the Scenes of Perhaps the Most Corrupt Bill the Israeli Parliament Has Known
“We wanted to protect the reputation of a specific elected official, who is the prime minister,” Zohar told Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet station.
“I think my colleagues in the party made a mistake in not saying from the very beginning that this bill protects [Netanyahu] ... until the attorney general decides otherwise.”
Zohar said two key Likud Knesset members, David Bitan and David Amsalem – who many times claimed there was no link between the bill and the criminal investigations into Netanyahu – erred when they did not state the bill’s true goal.
“They made a mistake when they didn’t say so and tried to embellish things,” Zohar said. “Because of that, we later were viewed by the people as if we trying to deceive them.”
As Zohar put it, “There is no law today in Israel that was not born as a result of a personal case. Every personal story leads to broader legislation for all Israeli citizens.”
Regarding the bribery and money laundering suspicions against Bitan, the coalition chairman, Zohar said: “We are going through a complicated period, a lot of not good noise around us – but we’ll get through it.”
Zohar said Bitan deserved the right to presumption of innocence; he said no one should be convicted before the courts decide otherwise, as he said had already been done to Netanyahu “and is now being done to MK David Bitan.”
Given the difficulty in winning a Knesset majority, Netanyahu has retreated from the version of the police bill pushed by Bitan and Amsalem. On Sunday, Netanyahu said he wanted to change the bill so that it would not apply to the investigations against him.
This came after tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Saturday night against the bill and government corruption.