Israeli Knesset advances law subordinating the authority of the police and its leadership to the Security Minister

The law, commonly referred to as ‘the Ben-Gvir Law’, will make the police and police commissioner completely subordinate to the National Security Minister’s authority and will substantially expand the powers of the Minister, will heighten police violence and negative attitude against Palestinians.
UPDATE: On 26 December 2022, the Knesset separated some of the bill's sections, so that the vote on the section subordinating the police commissioner to the Minister will be postponed until after the Government is sworn-in.

Adalah sent a follow-up letter arguing that the split fails to address the constitutional faults of the bill, as it makes the police subordinate to the National Security Minister and grants the Minister wide discretion to set the police's policy, pertaining, among other things, to priorities, work plans, general guidelines, exercising powers over the police budget, and setting general policy in the area of investigations. 

CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter.

On 28 December 2022, the Knesset passed the bill. 

CLICK HERE to read the law that passed


On 20 December 2022, the Knesset voted to approve the first reading of a new bill proposed by the Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”) MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, the expected incoming National Security Minister. The proposed bill makes the police and police commissioner completely subordinate to the National Security Minister’s authority and substantially expands the powers of the Minister, including in setting the police's policy.


In response, on 22 December, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and the Legal Advisor to the Knesset, demanding that they act to prevent the approval of the law, due to its unconstitutionality and the heightened police violence against Palestinians it will certainly result in. 


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter [Hebrew]


The bill was introduced following the signing of a draft coalition agreement between Otzma Yehudit and the Likud that reads: “before the swearing-in of the government, the coalition will make changes to the Police Ordinance (1971) so that the relationship between the National Security Minister and the police commissioner will be as the one between the defense minister and the commander in chief of the Israeli military”.


In the letter, Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi argued that the Israeli police are bound by criminal law and procedures, which determine, among other things, when the police must open an investigation, under what circumstances it is authorized to arrest, conduct a search, enter premises, block roads, etc. These are quasi-judicial powers that directly affect the rights of citizens, and the proposed bill essentially provides that the Minister's policy prevails over these laws. This, according to Adalah, is contrary to The Basic Law: The Government, which prohibits a Minister from assuming quasi-judicial powers, and thus, is unconstitutional.


Adalah further argued that the bill serves an improper purpose. The initiator of the bill, Ben-Gvir, explicitly stated that the purpose of the bill is to carry out structural changes within the police force, including the open-fire regulations, police’s policies regarding investigations and prosecution. Such drastic changes are certain to heighten police violence and hostility toward Palestinian citizens of Israel and other oppressed groups, given the history of the use of disproportionate police violence against Palestinians, as well as the history of racist rhetoric and policies of the bill’s initiators. During the May 2021 Events, Ben-Gvir said policemen whose lives are endangered “should be firing and not dealing with riot dispersal measures.” This, according to Adalah, indicates that, not only is the purpose of the law discriminatory, racist, and consistent with Israel’s historic attitude towards Palestinian citizens of the state as an enemy, but also, the granting of such unchecked and discretionary authority to leadership who have made their intentions to disproportionately harm Palestinians clear will surely escalate the already severe levels of police violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel.