Israel's Knesset passes 'Ben-Gvir bill' handing far-right state authority over police

Israel's Knesset passes 'Ben-Gvir bill' handing far-right state authority over police
Israel’s Knesset has passed a so-called Ben-Gvir bill that will give more authority over the police to the incoming national security minister.
2 min read
28 December, 2022
Legal experts have pushed back on bill, saying it doesn't provide a sufficient balance between police independence and the authority of the minister [Getty]

Israel’s Knesset has passed a bill that will give more authority over police to the country's national security minister, according to reports.

The governing body approved the bill proposed by far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir - who is set to become the next national security minister - on Wednesday morning, with 61 members of the Knesset supporting it, and 55 opposing it, Israeli outlet Haaretz reported.

The so-called ‘Ben-Gvir law’ will allow the Israeli national security minister to outline police policy, but the police commissioner will remain in charge of the institution.

"The correction to the law that we brought is a blessing for democracy. Only in police states does the police commissioner work on his own," Ben-Gvir said during a previous vote on the bill, according to Haaretz.

The bill will also give the national security minister the authority to determine police policy regarding investigations, thought they would need to consult with the attorney general, the police chief and other senior officers before making significant decisions.

The newly approved ‘Ben-Gvir law’ is a softer version of a harsher submission, that reflects the recommendations of the Knesset's legal advisors.

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However, legal experts have still pushed back on this re-write, saying it doesn't sufficiently balance police independence with the authority of the minister.

The Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s office also fear the bill opens the chance for political considerations to be mixed into police work and that it must be changed to avoid politicisation of the police.

Parliamentary bills become law in Israel if they have passed three rounds of voting in the Knesset.

After a bill is approved in the first round of voting, it is referred back to the Knesset committees, who decide if any amendments are needed.

In most cases, success in the first round of voting means the bill will end up as an official law, according to Haaretz.

Veteran Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu will present his new government to parliament this week as a vote for the formation of the government will take place at on Thursday, according parliament speaker Yariv Levin.

Ben-Gvir’s appointment as a national security minister would likely worsen the ongoing persecution of Palestinians in the occupied territories, as the lawmaker is notorious for his racist statements against Palestinians, and his support of their oppression.