Fury over law designed to shield PM from corruption shame
UP TO 50,000 protesters marched through central Tel Aviv at the weekend, condemning a parliamentary Bill designed to spare Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from public shame over corruption probes.
The controversial Recommendations Law, dubbed the Netanyahu Bill by Israel’s opposition, is due for its second reading in the Knesset today.
The Bill, if passed into law, would prevent police from publishing their recommendations to the Attorney General on whether to charge suspects in existing cases and ban them altogether from advising the Attorney General in future cases.
The Israeli leader would benefit personally from this Bill, since he is mired in multiple corruption investigations at present.
Marchers carried placards denouncing Mr Netanyahu as the “Crime Minister,” chanted “Bibi is a disgrace” and called for him to “go home” or be jailed.
Weekly demonstrations have taken place every Saturday evening since the opening of the probe against Mr Netanyahu in December 2016, but this weekend’s was the largest yet.
If adopted by the Knesset, the legislation would see police withholding conclusions in corruption probes into Mr Netanyahu, sparing him from a potential public outcry.
He is accused of accepting gifts of expensive wine and cigarettes worth up to £100,000 from billionaire Arnon Milchan and of trying to stitch up a deal with the influential Yediot Aharonot newspaper for better coverage.
There are also allegations relating to a possible conflict of interest involving a £1.5 billion purchase of German submarines.
The prime minister’s personal lawyer, who is also his cousin, represented the German firm involved and is suspected of trading influence with the Israeli leader in return for a hefty cut.
Mr Netanyahu’s close ally and his Likud party’s chief whip David Bitan was interrogated by police yesterday on corruption charges dating to his pre-parliament days.
He was grilled in relation to accusations that he promoted the interests of criminals in return for debt relief while he was a municipal politician years ago.
Mr Bitan is the driving force behind the Recommendations Bill which, apart from restricting police publication of their recommendations to the attorney general, would also penalise anyone found leaking to the media.