Knesset votes 46 to 38 to limit anti-Netanyahu protests

Three detained, including general, at violent protests

Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on August 29, 2020 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on August 29, 2020
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The Knesset plenum voted 46 to 38 at 4:30am to limit demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blue and White MKs Miki Haimovich and Ram Shefa voted against, together with the opposition.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid, praised her, saying she had more courage than two IDF chief of staff, referring to party leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi. 
Earlier Tuesday, the Knesset Law Constitution and Justice Committee voted nine to six on Tuesday morning to approve the changes, which would limit the protests during the current lockdown to people who live within a kilometer of Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem. 
The new rules will already take effect late Tuesday night after they are passed and would last for only a week. The rules will be able to be extended for up to three weeks, but each extension will need to be passed in the cabinet and can be canceled by the Law Committee. 
The Movement for Quality Government announced that it would challenge the new law in a petition to the High Court of Justice. 
The changes were passed thanks to compromises between Blue and White and Likud, which dropped attempts to make the limitations last longer, even after the full lockdown is over.
"The dangerous attempt by Likud to forbid protests until the entire corona crisis is over failed," said Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn of Blue and White.
Netanyahu downplayed the protests in a Facebook Live chat.
"There have always been protests against me," he said. "They can continue protesting within 1000 meters or near their homes. The problem is the spreading of the disease and the spreading of anarchy."
Five protest movements sent convoys of hundreds of cars to the Knesset on Tuesday, where violence took place between police and protesters after they tried to hang a sign across from the Knesset with the slogan "using coronavirus to bring dictatorship."
One protester was detained for injuring a policewoman. Two other protesters, including Brig.-Gen. Asaf Agmon, were detained for alleged violence against police. All three were later released.  
“You will be responsible for the grave harm that is being done to equality and freedom of the citizens of the State of Israel,”  a spokesman for the coalition of groups said.
A spokesman for the Black Flag movement said that “instead of destroying the coronavirus, Blue and White destroyed Israel's democracy.”
 
The Crime Minister movement said that "The accused has taken democracy hostage to suppress demonstrations against him. If the sane majority does not wake up, the next stage will be the firing of the attorney-general and cancelling the trial. Today, it is mandatory to say: Netanyahu is dangerous for Israel.
"We call on all who care about Israel to resist the madness and take part in the protest, everyone in their way and as guided by their conscience."
Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, who is a member of the committee, rejected the charges of the protest movements.
"We remain committed to safeguarding the necessary checks and balances in democracy, taking into account that we are in an emergency situation," she said. "With Israel leading in numbers of COVID-19 patients per capita, there must be a proportionate balance between the public’s health and civic rights. It is important to know that the law regarding demonstrations applies only during the time of complete lockdown, for prescribed short periods, with full parliamentary supervision, in transparent processes to the public eye."
In a rare consensus, the MKs agree to a Health Ministry request to permit an exception to the lockdown for all medical care, not just"essential" medical care, as in the current law.