Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can now make decisions on emergency coronavirus regulations by himself, with just a rubber stamp of a quick cabinet vote, following the Knesset's approval of the second and third readings of the bill early Tuesday morning.
The bill, which allows such decisions to take effect immediately, was passed into law by the Knesset plenary after many hours of deliberation that began slightly earlier in the night between Monday and Tuesday. The bill was approved hours after the Coronavirus Committee's prior approval of the bill.
According to the bill, the Knesset committee will discuss decisions made by the government and decide whether to approve them, in whole or in part, within seven days of when they passed. An extension of up to three more days is allowed.
To the extent that the relevant committee does not approve the government’s decision within the aforementioned period, the decisions will be brought to the Knesset plenum as soon as possible.
Alongside the Knesset approval process, the decisions will come into effect and will be implemented immediately upon government approval. If the committee or the Knesset plenary decides not to approve said order, or if it has not made a decision on the matter within the allotted time, the validity of the order will expire.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid told his Yesh Atid-Telem faction the proposed bill was undemocratic and would allow Netanyahu to make decisions on his own. “The big coronavirus law means we can shut down this theater and tell us all to go home,” he told the Knesset on Sunday.
“There is no longer a need for the Knesset,” he said. “There is only one branch in the land of Israel. The legislative branch is no more.”
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz said the bill would turn Netanyahu into a dictator and allow him to violate civil rights with no oversight.
But Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White) told the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee: “The bill is an attempt to balance between the need to work quickly for the citizens and the need for parliamentary oversight.”
Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.