Israelis vote in favour of draft law

JERUSALEM – The Israeli Parliament voted on Monday in favour of a draft law barring police from publicising its conclusions in criminal probes — legislation seen as shielding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under investigation for corruption.

The draft must still pass two more parliamentary votes. But if written into law, police would not be allowed to say whether they have found sufficient grounds to charge Mr Netanyahu, keeping the Israeli public in the dark until the Attorney-General determines whether the PM is to be prosecuted.

The draft law also proposes a one-year jail term for officials who leak findings to the press.

Its two sponsors, confidants of Mr Netanyahu, said the law is meant to protect suspects’ rights and reputation, while the opposition derided it as a blatant attempt to protect Mr Netanyahu and withhold knowledge from the public about his investigations.

“The public doesn’t need to know everything. The public will find out at the end,” Mr Netanyahu’s coalition head, David Bitan, told the Knesset television channel.

Mr Netanyahu has said he has no interest in promoting personal legislation but he has not ordered Mr Bitan and his co-sponsor of the bill, David Amsalem, to withdraw the legislation.

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