Acting Justice Minister Amir Ohana extended the emergency state in the court system until May 10, 2020.
The emergency order first went into effect mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak, freezing all non-essential proceedings.
The regulations were condemned at the time by the center-left bloc as they caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial to be postponed to May 24.
According to Ohana, the order was signed in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.High Court President Esther Hayut and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ultimately said that they had supported the move.Last week, the number of infected or quarantined judges and court staff had reached nearly 50 people.Despite the emergency order, the High Court has been working overtime policing the government's various emergency orders for potential constitutional or human rights violations.Criminal hearings cannot be postponed because a person’s very liberty is at stake, rather than just money, and so there is special stress to hold them as scheduled.Accordingly, there are strong efforts to move forward with criminal trials, without much in terms of postponements where the defendant is being held in detention until the end of the trial.Where a hearing must be held in person, this is still occurring. Where a hearing can move forward by agreement of all lawyers involved, and by video conference, the courts have made a special dispensation to permit that. Video conferences can even be used to render verdicts and sentencing decisions in some cases.Last week, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court initiated a pilot program in five courtrooms carrying out certain civil proceedings using video conferencing if all sides agree.At this stage, the focus would be on civil hearings with some kind of an emergent nature, such as seeking an injunction or other court action to avoid some kind of potentially irreversible monetary harm.In the family court arena, emergency proceedings having to do with domestic violence or divorce have still been going forward in some fashion or another.Starting soon, the family courts will also try to move forward with some decisions in cases where the sides started their litigation before the coronavirus crisis hit and where they have now reached an agreement that mostly just requires a court sign-off.The labor courts have broadly postponed hearings, but big cases impacting fundamental human rights or wide swaths of the population are still going forward.Small claims court cases are generally postponed indefinitely, considered to be low priority.Pressed about a situation where a small claims case could make a real difference to someone who was already poor, a spokesperson said that the courts could always prioritize exceptional cases.After all of these efforts to move forward with emergent issues, the vast majority of court proceedings requiring hearings are being postponed until the coronavirus crisis passes.Leon Sverdlov contributed to this report.