MandelblitFlash 90

Furor erupted within the political establishment following reports that police had interrogated MK Miki Zohar over comments he made about Attorney General AVichai Mandelblit in a radio interview.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin said that " as Speaker of the Knesset, I cannot accept a situation in which a Knesset member is questioned because of his statement made in the course of his public office. Today, a new concept of 'silent investigation' has been established with the aim of deterring public figures from freely stating their position."

"The immunity of Knesset members is meant precisely for this purpose, to ensure that they can criticize the systems of government and express their position without fear. The power held by law enforcement is a tremendous power. The use of this power must be careful, proportionate and especially facts-based. The use of this power for the purpose of 'silent investigation' indicates a severe lack of judgment and understanding of the limitations of this power," Levin added.

He said, "I expect all the heads of the Knesset factions to unite in demanding the cessation of this investigation, and respect for the powers of the Knesset members and their ability to perform their duties. This time it is up to all of us to transcend any political or party considerations."

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana said: "This is a badge of shame for the police, the Attorney General and the State Attorney's Office that an investigation into an unsuccessful statement (which was later clarified) which was made during a radio interview."

Minister Ze'ev Elkin added that "summoning MK Zohar for a criminal investigation following his remarks in a radio interview is an act which crosses of all boundaries of parliamentary immunity and freedom of expression for Knesset members."

"One can argue with the style and MK Zohar also issued after the act a clarification and apology for his remarks, but a criminal investigation? Whoever approved this investigation severely damaged democracy," Elkin wrote on Twitter.

Minister Miri Regev wondered: "When will someone from the State Attorney's Office be questioned about things he wrote and did? Rest assured this will not happen because no one will investigate or criticize the State Attorney's Office - they are above the law. It is time to separate between the Attorney General;s role as public prosecutor and legal advisor."

National Union chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich stated: "Mandelblit today crossed a bright red line that brings Israel closer to a dangerous legal dictatorship and he must 'go home' immediately. The ministers of the government and its leader must stop cooperating with him completely, not summon him to any meetings, not attend any meeting he attends and replace him with someone who understands the role better."

Former Justice Minister MK Ayelet Shaked said that "MK Miki Zohar's interrogation because of an unfortunate statement which he apologized for is a disgrace to the law enforcement system in a democratic state. The law enforcement system would do well to come back and admit it was wrong."

Former Jerusalem mayor MK Nir Barkat said that "an investigation by an elected official for an inappropriate statement in an interview that he has already apologized for is a serious mistake in the discretion of the State Attorney's Office and the police."