JERUSALEM—Following a marathon 58-hour filibuster, the controversial Recommendations Law passed a third and final reading in the early hours of Thursday morning with a 59-54 majority and immediately ran into trouble with the Yesh Atid party submitting a petition against the Law to the High Court of Justice when it opened for business at 8 a.m..
The law states that when the police submit the findings of a criminal investigation to the state prosecutor’s office, it will do so without submitting a written opinion as to whether an indictment should be served. Police will instead submit a written opinion on the evidence against the suspect. In high-profile cases where there is an accompanying state-prosecutor, the police opinion will only be submitted if the Attorney General or the State Prosecutor make a request for police to do so. In cases without an accompanying state prosecutor, police will be able to recommend that the case be closed.
The law will not apply to cases that were opened before the law passed, including the corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Nevertheless, the opposition has slammed the bill saying it is a “personal law, whose only purpose is to protect the prime minister from the investigations being carried out against him.”
Submitting the petition on behalf of Yesh Atid, MK Karin Elharar said “the law is one of the most corrupt that has been passed by the coalition.”
“It is a law whose only purpose is to sow fear among the police and the prosecution,” Elharar continued. “We fought this terrible law for three days, we fought it in the committees, we submitted over 1,000 reservations and now that all that has failed we have submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice. We can not allow this law to stand. We will not take orders from the coalition and we will not allow the coalition to destroy Israeli democracy.”
The filibuster included 43 hours of speeches that saw MKs deploy the height of their rhetorical skills to pass the time: Yesh Atid’s Ofer Shelah read from Shakespeare’s Richard III; Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) read out Whatsapp messages sent to him by members of the public; Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) read out the entire Book of Lamentations in traditional Yemenite style; Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) gave his speech in Jewish Morroccan; Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) lectured on inequality in Israel; Yossi Yonah (Zionist Union), a former university professor, gave a lecture titled “From Plato to Machiavelli – Foundations of Corrupt Government; while Michal Biran (Zionist Union) gave a talk on the history of pickles. Mickey Levi (Yesh Atid) gave the longest speech at seven hours.
Defending the bill, newly-installed coalition whip David Amsalem accused the opposition of “sowing confusion” among the public, which he said was not familiar with the details of the bill.
“There are people who know the facts, but won’t let the facts confuse them. They continue to lie blatantly and present false presentations to the public, which is not familiar with the details of the bill. From morning to evening, the public hears corruption, corruption, corruption and begins to believe the facts without knowing that you are lying.”