The government on Monday voted to extend Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) surveillance of citizens infected with coronavirus. It also is trying to move legislation forward to permanently regulate the program in accordance with the High Court of Justice.The current plan is to ask the Knesset Intelligence Subcommittee to extend the program until June 16 or until a new Knesset law is passed to regulate it. In parallel, the Justice Ministry will put forth a proposed bill by May 18 in keeping with the High Court’s April 26 decision that gave the state up to a few weeks to move the process forward in a serious manner.Subcommittee chairman Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White) said he would hold hearings on the issue on Tuesday. On April 30, the Knesset Intelligence Subcommittee extended the Shin Bet’s surveillance program for five days, keeping the program on a shorter leash than requested at the time by the government.The five days were designed to give the government time to decide whether it would try to pass new full-fledged legislation so that the program complies with the High Court and can continue to run for a longer term, while ensuring that the government makes a quick decision, Ashkenazi said at that hearing.It was unclear how hard Ashkenazi and his committee would fight the extension given that they have approved it until now. But since much of the country is returning to normal, such a drastic program may not be needed.The government is due to meet and decide the issue this coming Sunday, Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri said. As soon as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ministers decide, the process for passing a new law on the issue could start moving forward at a rapid pace if necessary, he added.On Sunday, the High Court ruled that the program must end within weeks if a new Knesset law is not passed to extend and regulate it.The invasion of privacy was too great to allow the program to continue much longer simply based on a government decision and the state’s emergency regulations, the justices said.Nizri had requested a seven-day extension, so the five-day extension was a small rebuke to urge the government to decide whether it would continue with the Shin Bet surveillance or choose a different path.Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said it was clear that the program should continue. Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar said the government had misled the committee by underplaying alternative options for following coronavirus trends that other countries are using. On March 31, the subcommittee approved extending the program until April 30 and possibly allowing it to continue even without a new Knesset law, with some changes and limitations.In multiple instances where the government might have wanted broader and vague language regarding the surveillance program, the committee members insisted in March on a more explicit list of what the agency could and could not do with the new surveillance powers.Committee legal adviser Miri Frankel Shor had emphasized in March that granting the Shin Bet these surveillance powers over Israeli citizens went against every definition of the agency’s mission until now, which has been to fight national security threats from noncitizens, such as Palestinian terrorists.However, she recommended approval of the program, subject to limitations and continuous oversight, in light of the overarching goal of saving lives and the unique dire nation of the situation.During the March hearing, Avidar opposed the idea, implying that everyone in the room was allowing the opening of a Pandora’s Box and that there would be powerful officials who would later try to use the information collected by the Shin Bet in ways the Knesset did not intend.Ashkenazi pushed for the Health Ministry to agree to limit the Shin Bet from collecting information of third persons who came into contact with an infected person for less than 15 minutes.Committee member MK Moshe Ya’alon (Telem) said the committee should not micromanage the Shin Bet. In response, Ashkenazi said unless an infected person came into direct physical contact with a third party, there should be a tight leash on what kinds of people it could surveil using technology.The committee said information the Shin Bet can collect from infected citizens’ cellphones should be limited to personal identification, location and details of who an individual contacted, but not the content of communications with others.Further, the committee said the Shin Bet should transfer to the Health Ministry only limited aspects of the collected information that were necessary for saving lives.The committee said the surveillance program should be shut down if either the country went into lockdown or if the coronavirus began to spread so widely that Shin Bet surveillance lost its utility.The surveillance started in mid-March when the coronavirus outbreak hit a peak and ran for around two weeks before the Knesset asserted any serious oversight.