Kafe Knesset for October 25
TKO on PM immunity: The Bayit Yehudi party put the kibosh on the controversial bill to give sitting prime ministers immunity from criminal investigations. After days of MKs in Naftali Bennett’s party expressing reservations about the bill, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, the party used their doomsday weapon: veto power. The coalition agreement states that all parties in the coalition can veto new Basic Laws or amendments to existing Basic Laws, and the so-called “French bill” (named after a French constitutional amendment passed after Jacques Chirac was investigated for corruption), is an amendment to a Basic Law. Bayit Yehudi were not the first coalition members to rain on the Likud’s parade – earlier this week, Kulanu gave its MKs freedom to vote as they choose, and most were expected to oppose the bill.
Not recommended: Of course coalition chairman David Bitan was furious about the whole thing, so Bayit Yehudi calmed him down by agreeing to what may be the next big controversy in the Knesset. This too is related to Bibi’s investigations. In Israel, when an elected official or senior civil servant is under investigation, the Attorney General himself decides whether to indict the official or not. But when the Police give the Attorney General the evidence they found, the Police usually include a recommendation as to what they think he should do. Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh said, when he was appointed, that he would stop the practice, but he never did. Now, Bitan wants to pass a law saying that the Police are not allowed to make recommendations – let the Attorney General decide on his own. Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit has been very vocal this week, and spoke out against the “French bill,” calling it absurd and saying that it will turn the Prime Minister’s Office into a sanctuary for the corrupt. Now we will have to see what he has to say about the new proposal. Meanwhile, it turns out that Bitan himself is under Police investigation due to new evidence in connection with old corruption allegations from when he was on the Rishon Lezion City Council. Unsurprisingly, Bitan finds the timing suspect, in light of the bills he is working on these days.
Everyone loves Rivlin again: After a couple of days of politicians fighting about President Rivlin because of his fiery speech in the Knesset, all that it took was someone calling him a Nazi to bring everyone back to the fold. Graffiti on a school in Bnei Brak calling Rivlin a Nazi made the headlines. Politicians on the Left pounced, calling it a result of “incitement” by the Right. Then the Right felt it had to condemn the graffiti, with even Netanyahu – who is not exactly Rivlin’s biggest fan – chiming in. The Haredi press, however, told a different story. It turns out that the graffiti was sprayed around a month ago when Rivlin visited the school, and it was never cleaned up.