The Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Omer Bar-Lev, warned, on Monday, that the understandings between his expected successor, extremist member of the Knesset (parliament), Itamar Ben Gvir, and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, “could destroy the police apparatus.”
Under the understandings between Netanyahu, the leader of the “Likud” party, and Ben Gvir, the head of “Otzma Yehudit” (Jewish Power), the powers of the Minister of Internal Security will be expanded, a position that the latter is expected to assume.
The expected amendment provides for making the police chief a mere subordinate to the Minister of Internal Security, through changes to the law, according to what was reported by the Hebrew newspaper, Haaretz.
“The police decree should not be changed, nor is it necessary to do so,” Barlev said in a tweet posted on his Twitter account.
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The “police decree” is the law that defines the functions of the police and regulates the relations between its commander-in-chief and the Minister of Homeland Security.
The decree grants full autonomy to the police and its commander, but also grants the minister certain powers over the police that fall within the responsibilities of his ministry.
“If these are indeed the agreements between the Likud and Otzma Yehudit, then this is a flagrant political interference that will seriously harm the independence of the police and weaken it, as well as the powers of its commander,” Bar Lev continued.
He added, “This is a recipe for the destruction of the police, and even fear of harming democracy,” considering that “without the police decree, there is a fear of political interference by the minister, and sometimes even by the entire government.”
“The responsibility, authority and duty of the Homeland Security Secretary is to establish police policy,” he said.
He explained, “In order to liberate the police from political influence, it is forbidden to reach a situation in which the minister has powers that allow him to manage the police in practice, and to interfere in professional decisions that would weaken the investigation, intelligence and operations bodies.”
And he added, “The role of the police chief and its senior officials is to take decisions and implement them in light of the minister’s policy, and the minister may not interfere in their daily work.”
Since his assignment by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to form the government on November 13, Netanyahu has been negotiating with the leaders of the right-wing parties to form his government coalition, within a time limit of 28 days, which can be extended for a period of 14 days with the approval of the president.
Netanyahu intends to form the government from the “Likud” party that he heads, and the parties “Shas”, “United Torah Judaism”, “Jewish Power” and “Religious Zionism”.
Prior to the elections that took place in early November, Ben Gvir stated that he had asked Netanyahu to give him the internal security portfolio if a right-wing government was formed, and said that his plan relied on points, including “changing the rules of fire” towards the Palestinians.