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Israel’s attorney general to oppose bill to expand Ben Gvir’s authority over police

Religious Zionism party chairman Bezalel Smotrich said the proposed law was “the most justified demand in the world”

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara attends a conference of the Israeli chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), in Tel Aviv, July 5, 2022. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

According to Israeli news, the Jewish state’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara will oppose legislation from the incoming government aimed at increasing National Security Minister-designate Itamar Ben Gvir’s authority over the Israel Police. 

While the incoming coalition has the necessary seats to pass the legislation, the reports said that Baharav-Miara will not defend the law if it is challenged in the High Court. 

Ben Gvir is slated to become national security minister in the new government, a newly created role which replaces the public security minister. On Thursday, Ben Gvir submitted a bill which would make the police commissioner subordinate to him. 

If passed, the bill would give Ben Gvir authority over both the Israel Police and the Border Police, as well as overseeing the police budget, separating it from the state budget. 

Announcing her rejection of the bill, Baharav-Miara said such a law would treat the national police force like an arm of the military, by making the former subordinate to a minister. By contrast, Ben Gvir stated that the bill is intended to provide democratic governance to the Israel Police. 

Several Likud party members are already calling for Baharav-Miara’s replacement. 

Critics argue that putting a minister in charge of the police would hinder investigations of political figures accused of wrongdoing, including possibly the national security minister himself. 

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai stated in a letter to the police on Friday that “the winds of politics will not penetrate the Israel Police as they have not penetrated to date. We will be vigilant in order to ensure that the goal continues to be strong, and that its independence is not compromised.” 

In contrast, Religious Zionism party chairman Bezalel Smotrich said the proposed law was “the most justified demand in the world.” 

“The fact that such a strong and vital body is not subject to the democratic system and the people it’s supposed to be serving is a dangerous twisting of democracy,” Smotrich said. 

Opposition members have already called for delays to the legislation through open debate. Some current and former police officers called for Shabtai to resign in protest. Shabtai has another year of tenure.

Ben Gvir told reporters that he did not want the commissioner to resign, saying, “We will work in cooperation, and we will have a good working relationship.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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