Mass MK coronavirus quarantine nixes government legislative agenda

On Sunday, nine MKs were put into quarantine on after coming into contact with Knesset employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset plenum, December 15, 2021. (photo credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ/KNESSET)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset plenum, December 15, 2021.
(photo credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ/KNESSET)

The government will take off the legislative agenda this week any bills which are not considered urgent since some 11 MKs are currently in quarantine due to exposure to people confirmed to have COVID-19

This includes a replacement for the law regulating ultra-Orthodox IDF service exemptions.

Speaker MK Miki Levy attempted to formulate an agreement between the coalition and opposition to enable remote voting for MKs so that the work of the Knesset could continue, but Likud faction chairman MK Yariv Levin denounced the effort as anti-democratic and refused to agree to the proposal. 

On Sunday, nine MKs were put into quarantine on after coming into contact with Knesset employees who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, while two MKs entered quarantine last week, including opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Two days ago, the Knesset management put 130 employees into quarantine because four employees tested positive for COVID-19, some of whom are suspected of having the Omicron variant. 

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett sits in pandemic-mandated isolation in the Knesset this week, after returning from the UAE. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett sits in pandemic-mandated isolation in the Knesset this week, after returning from the UAE. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The nine MKs to enter quarantine on Sunday were Gilad Kariv, Merav Ben Ari, Gadi Yevarkan, Yom Tov Kalfon, Kati Shitrit, Mossi Raz, Moshe Tur Paz, Hamad Amar, and Simcha Rothman. 

Since six of the nine MKS are from the coalition, in addition to Yesh Atid MK Simon Davidson who was put into quarantine last week with Netanyahu, the government no longer has a guaranteed majority to pass its legislation. 

Levin rejected any attempt to allow remote voting for the coalition to ensure that the government could continue to pass legislation. 

“The effort of the coalition to silence the Knesset and to silence the opposition under the guise of ‘preparing for a wave of infection’ must not succeed,” said Levin, saying that during the last government arrangements were made for quarantined MKs to vote safely in person. 

“The attempt of the coalition to make historic precedents of remote voting would once and for all cancel the democratic process in the Knesset and its entire goal is to solve the difficulties the coalition has in getting together a majority for votes.”