MK David Amsalem
MK David Amsalem Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Knesset on Monday evening approved the first reading of the so-called “Recommendations Law”, which would prohibit the police from making recommendations for and against prosecution at the end of an investigation.

46 MKs voted in favor of the bill, which was proposed by MK David Amsalem (Likud), and 37 voted against it. MK Benny Begin (Likud), who opposes the legislation, was in attendance but did not participate in the vote.

The bill will be returned to the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee, where it will be prepared for its second and third readings.

The current version of the law applies to cases that are accompanied by a state attorney, and it would also increase penalties for leaking the contents of police investigations.

The bill approved on Monday includes two revisions, according to the Knesset website. “One revision would permit the attorney general to seek police input in the existing corruption probes into Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, though he and police would be banned from publicizing those recommendations. The second revision sets a one-year prison sentence for investigators who leak their conclusions to outside sources. “

According to the legislation, in future cases where a prosecutor is involved throughout the entire investigation — specifically in investigations against public officials — no recommendations may be submitted in writing upon the conclusion of the probe.

In all other cases, recommendations on the evidence gathered may be issued in writing, though the police reports may not explicitly recommend whether to press charges against the suspects.

Opponents of the bill argue that Likud MKs put it together in order to shield Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from prosecution in the probes against him.

MK Micky Rosenthal (Zionist Union) blasted the law and said, "99% of the police recommendations are not made public because they are of no interest to anyone. But now the suspects themselves will not be able to receive the material the prosecution receives from the police. This law is a disgrace, all you want is to separate the public from the elected officials."

Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid criticized the legislation as well and said, "This is a law that concerns only a few dozen cases but is actually intended for one person. This is a personal law that has nothing to do with the good of the general public. The prime minister's chief of staff sat with them and put together the law so that it would exactly fit the prime minister, because he is scared to death that the Israeli public will find out what the recommendations are. If the Recommendations Law passes, Yesh Atid will appeal to the Supreme Court against it; this law will be stopped, either in this building or in the building across the street."

MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) said, "The members of the coalition are probably already certain that the police think the prime minister is guilty, otherwise why would they support the law? They simply are embarrassed of the prime minister and they do not have the courage to say that this is completely corrupt. This causes injustice to people who the police are investigating and concluding they have done nothing wrong, but will be unable to make it public.”

MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) expressed support for the law, telling the opposition, "I am not ashamed of criticizing the prime minister when it’s necessary, but just as you criticize the law, you should be open to criticism of yourselves. What is this? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Is there a single MK here who asked to speak and MK Amsalem did not let him speak in the committee? This law says that it is forbidden to shame a public figure, so what?”

Coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) said at the conclusion of the discussion: "I heard the word corruption 1,000 times and that the prime minister is corrupt. That's exactly the point, you are not interested in the results of the investigation. For you the very fact that there is an investigation means he is guilty. You do not care what the truth is. You want to discredit and change public opinion and this law is needed just for that. You are taking advantage of an investigation that has nothing in it to dismiss a prime minister and that is a kind of corruption."