This position paper is submitted to a special Knesset committee on the proposal to establish the Commissioner’s subordination to the Minister of National Security as well as the Minister’s authority to outline policy and establish general principles regarding the duration of case processing. Zulat’s position is that the proposed amendment severely violates equality before the law.
The proposed amendment will legitimize and exacerbate existent problems in the Israel Police with regard to profiling and policy on the use of force and selective enforcement vis-à-vis minorities, disadvantaged groups, and demonstrators espousing certain political views. These problems have been documented in countless governmental and non-governmental reports, but instead of dealing with them, the proposed amendment will only exacerbate and legitimize them.
The State of Israel is obligated to uphold equality in all stages of a criminal procedure, given that this might determine a person’s fate, with all people being equal before the law and entitled to equal protection under the law without any discrimination. This ranges from the decision to arrest or detain a person, check identification papers, launch an investigation, search or seize property, and file an indictment, all the way to prosecution and criminal trialThe proposed amendment will allow the Minister of National Security to direct the police to carry out enforcement against an individual or certain population groups based on such considerations as religion, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender, personal hostility, or political rivalry. The Minister of National Security is a politician, therefore inherently and permanently finds himself in a conflict of interests. Without explicitly saying so, the minister would be able to steer Israel Police’s enforcement and investigation policy in a way that would serve his political and personal interests or the government’s by, say, prioritizing “increased” enforcement vis-a-vis certain population groups or in certain regions of the country.
For example, 36 hours before Election Day in April 2019, Itamar Ben-Gvir (then a prospective MK) exhorted Hilltop Youth and their families to vote for him, promising in exchange to secure them immunity from criminal prosecution and asserting that “State Attorney’s officers who declared war on the settlements will have to find new jobs.” In addition to his promise to grant immunity to far-right activists, Minister Ben-Gvir has repeatedly written on social media that the Israel Police should investigate human rights and Left activists, whom he dubs “anarchists,” and that he supports a bill submitted by his fellow party member MK Almog Cohen to jail “anarchists” who, so he alleges, do not let IDF soldiers do their job.The proposed amendment will allow the Minister of National Security to order the Israel Police to use force in a selective, racist, and political fashion.
Therefore, Zulat recommends to the MKs representing the democratic public:
- Refuse to legitimize Israel Police’s politicization and selective enforcement.
- Although the proposal deals specifically with the Minister of National Security’s powers, it is inseparable from the comprehensive move to effect a regime revolution. Its approval would complete the politicization of the Israel Police in tandem with Justice Minister Levin’s plan to fully politicize the justice system.
- MKs must refuse to engage in a debate before the government reveals all the “chapters” of the package of legislative amendments that it intends to promote based on the coalition agreements. The “salami method” is designed to confuse MKs and the public regarding the comprehensive move planned by the government to effect a regime revolution.