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December 28, 2022 8:57 am

Israel: Knesset Passes Law Granting Ben-Gvir Unprecedented Power Over Police

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avatar by i24 News

Far right Israeli politicians Itamar Ben Gvir (l) and Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich (r) are seen at a Knesset session. Photo: Reuters/Abir Sultan

i24 NewsIsrael’s parliament on Wednesday passed incoming national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s bill that will give him unprecedented control over Israel’s police.

The debates took place all night, and the final vote began at 10:00 a.m. with a number of reservations expressed by the future opposition. The text was finally adopted with 61 votes for and 55 against. The bill is the latest of four bills the coalition began pushing through the Knesset about three weeks ago, with the aim of forming the government that will be presented to the Knesset at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The law passed anchors the subordination of the Israeli police to the government, as well as the power of the minister of national security to define the policy and general principles of the latter. It also allows the minister to define policy on investigations, after consulting the public prosecutor, the police commissioner and the officers in charge of investigations. The adoption of the text had been an essential condition posed by Ben-Gvir to join the government of prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We made history,” Ben-Gvir said immediately after the law was passed, promising it would enable “strong policing.”

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Two other laws constituting amendments to the Basic Law, known as the “Deri Law” and the “Smotrich Law,” passed Tuesday morning by a vote of 63 to 55 after further obstruction attempts by the future opposition.

The intention of the “Deri law” is to allow Shas chairman Aryeh Deri to be appointed minister, despite his conviction in January for tax offenses and the suspended prison sentence imposed on him. The “Smotrich Act” is another provision that allows for the creation of a minister’s post within a ministry. It will allow the chairman of the Religious Zionism party, Bezalel Smotrich, to occupy a post of minister within the Defense Ministry and to take charge of civil matters in the West Bank, in particular the coordination of government activities in the territories and the Civil Administration.

At the end of Wednesday’s vote, Yariv Levin resigned as Knesset speaker so he could take up his intended post as justice minister. Levin’s resignation will take effect Thursday morning, before the plenary session to ratify the new government.

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