The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday the bill prohibiting the police from issuing recommendations on prosecuting senior officials after concluding an investigation. If any doubt remained about the “personal” nature of the draft law that Knesset Interior and Environment Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem is trying to pass — over the objections of all law enforcement agencies, including the prosecution, the police and other investigatory bodies — its latest version eliminates it.
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In the original version there was an attempt to claim that the law would protect suspects from harm to their reputation resulting from the publication of a summary of the evidence against them, despite the fact that many investigations are closed without charges being filed. The current version, however, applies only to very specific cases, ones that are overseen by a prosecutor. These are rare, complex cases that are of public importance. The application of the bill to only these cases shows that it was cut to fit a specific matter — the investigations of the prime minister.
More proof came last week, with the disgraceful removal from the Knesset Interior Committee of MK Benny Begin when he requested the stipulation that the law could not be applied retroactively.
There is no doubt that the attempt to prevent the police from composing a summary of the evidentiary basis for the case will harm the investigation and the subsequent quality of the prosecution’s treatment of the case. All law enforcement officials who attended the committee sessions pointed this out. The case summary is a tool for investigators, helping them to think through their actions and helping the prosecution to connect the dots in the evidence, which can run to thousands of documents and hundreds of cartons.
The fact that certain cases are overseen by a prosecutor does not in the slightest change the fact that the police are the investigatory body with the most intimate knowledge of the evidence and the responsibility for leading the investigation. Therefore, in these cases, too, a summary of the evidentiary basis is essential.
The “recommendations bill” shows that what concerns its sponsors is neither the public good nor any matter of principle, but only the prime minister’s interests. In using the tool of legislation in the matter of a specific individual, especially when that individual is the prime minister, demonstrates contempt for the Knesset and undermines public faith in the democratic process. The law is not a pawn in a game. The power to legislate is a trust given to lawmakers to use for the welfare of the public, not for their personal benefit.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.