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Israel’s Knesset again prepares to grant itself sweeping powers due to ‘COVID’

Israel's government known for drawing heavily on far-reaching powers

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January 06, 2023


04:34 AM

Israel’s Knesset again prepares to grant itself sweeping powers due to ‘COVID’

Israel’s Knesset (parliament) is preparing to renew the Law on Special Authorities for Dealing with the Novel Coronavirus which grants the government unbridled authority to implement sweeping restrictions and criminalize non-compliance.  

This will be the second extension of the law after it was originally passed in June 2020 and lapsed in April 2022.

The bill will extend the Special Authorities validity until February 2024 "to continue to enable legal infrastructure for imposing restrictions and maintaining public health." 

The Health Ministry is allowing public feedback until January 11, 2023.

It will authorize the government to obligate the presentation of a negative coronavirus test or recovery certificate ("which includes a valid recovery or vaccination certificate") as a condition for entering places that are open to the public, businesses, workplaces, and more. "This section is intended to anchor the authority to require a test or Green Pass, without detracting from the authority already given to establish these regulations." 

Restrictions may be placed on movement and gatherings both in public and private spaces, including someone’s own residence. The government can close businesses and decide which may remain open. Those who remain open may be forced to serve only those who have been vaccinated. 

Physical distancing and masking requirements may also be enforced. 

Those who do not prevent the entry of a person who has not presented an up-to-date negative test result, Green Pass vaccine passport, or proof of recovery may be fined up to NIS 10,000 ($2,815).  

The government may enforce hygiene, regulate types of activities and place restrictions related to a person’s private vehicle. Limitations on schools may also be enforced as well. 

“The law does not generally apply to the president of the state, official buildings of the Knesset, the state comptroller’s office, and courts and tribunals,” says the bill. “It similarly does not apply to the Israel Defense Force, the Israel police, the Prison Authority, and other institutions specified by the law.” 

Israel’s government drew heavily on these powers throughout the pandemic. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who accused the unvaccinated of "walking around with a machine gun firing Delta variants at people,” at one point proposed mandating bracelets which would identify for the public those who had not received the injections. He also proposed forcing the unvaccinated to pay for their own healthcare. Both proposals were supported by then-Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, though Bennett relented due to social pressure. 

It was revealed last year that Israel's Health Ministry knew masks had 'no strong scientific basis' before imposing the mandate.  Documents released under the freedom of information act revealed that Israel’s Health Ministry imposed the policy to send an “educational” message to increase COVID compliance.

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