The Shin Bet domestic security service and Israel Police have both expressed serious concerns over Justice Minister Gideon Saar’s proposed law to disqualify any evidence obtained in an illegal manner.
Under Saar’s bill, any evidence that was illegally obtained would be disqualified by the courts, including in cases pertaining to national security.
Saar’s bill is enshrined in coalition agreements between his New Hope party and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, and is based on the recommendations of the Arbel Committee, which investigated this specific issue among others.
Security officials meanwhile have argued that the bill would severely hamper Shin Bet investigations, as well the work of its agents who are sometimes forced to operate out of the confines of the law to obtain evidence, including working undercover in extremist organizations.
"It is inconceivable that terrorists or spies would be released instead of being prosecuted for security offenses, this is a violation of state security," a security source said.
"The far-reaching implications of the bill can lead to confessions of interrogees being disqualified one after the other,” according to another source.
“It must not be forgotten that while the Shin Bet is careful when it comes to violating the provisions of the law, it often operates in a legal 'gray area'. The fear now is that this area will be completely erased and it will be difficult for the organization to bring definite results."
The police have also expressed concern over the law, which officials claim might torpedo efforts to eradicate organized and serious financial crime.
According to senior police officials, the main concern is that lawyers for organized crime suspects, who are considered highly sophisticated, will exploit any loophole in the law to free their clients and seek the disclosure of confidential evidence, including the exposure of witnesses.
The police also expressed concern that certain methods used to obtain evidence in cyber investigations would be rendered illegal by Saar’s proposed law.
Saar hit back, however, saying that security services should not be above the law.
"In a properly functioning state, law enforcement agencies should act within the boundaries of the law, which is precisely one of the purposes of the bill, as well as reinforcing the importance of a fair trial and individual civil rights,” Saar's office said.
“This is an important step that protects three values - the purity of the judicial process, the right of defendants to a fair trial and the duty of law enforcement authorities to act within the law,” Saar said.