The Knesset plenum is expected to approve today (Wednesday) in the second and third readings the “Great Corona Law”, which regulates the government’s powers to declare a state of emergency and install regulations to fight the corona virus. The bill, which was drafted yesterday at a meeting of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, was dubbed the “Shasha Bitton Bypass Law.” This is because it stipulates that four Knesset committees can retrospectively discuss emergency orders approved by the government and even repeal them within 14 days, but the Corona Committee is not there.
The committees that can discuss the emergency orders are the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the Economics Committee, the Education, Culture and Sports Committee and the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. In the event of disagreements, the Knesset committee will decide which of the committees will discuss the orders. In this way, the coalition can bypass the Corona committee, headed by MK Yifat Shasha Bitton, without actually having to initiate a problematic dismissal process.
The law stipulates that the emergency regulations decided upon by the government will enter into force within 24 hours from the date of their enactment for 28 days, with the government being allowed to extend their validity for additional periods. In the event that the designated committee does not discuss the order within a week, the Speaker of the Knesset will be able to pass the order for approval by the Knesset plenum.
Also MK Gideon Saar (Likud) criticized the proposal and said: “I am against the heads of committees in order to get to the plenum as a bypass to the committee. There is no real discussion of parliamentary oversight in the plenum. The government has repeatedly admitted that it was wrong, “If we follow this pattern. I’m just imagining the founding generation of Menachem Begin and those who read this version alongside him.”
The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will meet this morning to substantiate reservations and votes in preparation for the law for a second and third reading, with the intention of approving it today in the Knesset plenum. The chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, MK Avigdor Lieberman, called on coalition members to vote against the bill that he says makes the Knesset a rubber stamp of the government.
At the request of the members of the committee, the extension of the period of declaration of a state of emergency due to the corona virus will require the approval of the Constitution Committee; Further to the Committee’s requirement Regulations in this Act shall be enacted by the Government and shall enter into force after the approval of the Committee within 24 hours from the date of their enactment (except in urgent cases); The government may set conditions for a demonstration, prayer or religious ceremony as long as they do not prevent them from taking place.
According to the bill Special powers to deal with the new corona virus (temporary order), known as the “Great Corona Law”, the government will be empowered to declare a state of emergency due to the corona, if it is convinced that there is a real risk of widespread corona virus and significant harm to public health. By virtue of the powers set forth in this law. ” This, after she was presented with the position of the Minister of Health and a professional opinion of the Ministry of Health on the matter.
In exceptional cases, the declaration will take effect immediately even before it is published in Reshumot. On the day the law begins, it will be seen as if a 45-day state of emergency has already been declared and the government, with the approval of the Constitution Committee, may extend the declaration for additional periods not exceeding 60 days each until the end of the temporary order (30.6.21). The Knesset may revoke the declaration; The government must repeal if the circumstances that justify it cease to exist.
With respect to the government’s authority to install the regulations it was stipulated that the government would be empowered to install regulations only when declaring a state of emergency due to Corona. The regulations will be able to set restrictions in the various areas of life – on the conduct of the individual (in his private space, including his home and private car, and in the public space), on businesses, activities open to the public, workplaces, events, educational institutions, welfare frameworks, and public transportation . The validity of regulations shall not exceed 28 days and in the case of regulations restricting activity in the private and public space their validity shall not exceed 14 days.
The government will be authorized to extend these additional periods until the end of the temporary order, provided that the declaration of a state of emergency is valid. Regulations that the government may install shall require the prior approval of the Constitution Committee or other committees whose regulations are within their jurisdiction; If the committee has not made a decision within 24 hours, the regulations will enter into force and it will be able to approve them or postpone them for a period of one or two weeks, depending on the type of restrictions in them;
If the committee has not made a decision, regulations will be submitted to the Knesset plenum. At the request of the committee, the regulations will be laid on the table of the committees in the Knesset, accompanied by the factual infrastructure that formed the basis for their installation.
Issues of declaring and canceling the state of emergency as well as enacting regulations regarding the limitation of private and public space will be brought to the Constitution Committee and other regulations will be brought to the Education, Labor and Welfare Committees, the Economics Committee or another committee determined by the Knesset Committee. The Corona Committee headed by MK Yifat Shasha Bitton is not mentioned among the committees and officials in the committee called the bill a “Shasha Bitton Bypass Law.”
According to the proposal, if a Knesset committee has not made a decision regarding regulations, an additional period of time will be given within which the Knesset plenum can approve them, and if the Knesset has not made a decision on the matter, the regulations will expire.
According to the test set for the installation of regulations – the government must be convinced that they are necessary to “prevent infection with the corona virus, reduce its spread, reduce the extent of morbidity or protect at-risk populations.” Their installation is also subject to proportionality so that they will be installed only for the period and to the extent necessary and after considering alternatives and effects on the economy.
In addition to the committee’s demand, regulations restricting activity in the public space regarding keeping a distance and restricting gatherings in a public space will not be able to prevent demonstrations, prayers and religious ceremonies, but the government may set conditions for their existence.
In addition, at the request of the committee, a requirement of vitality was added in restricting the entry of a person other than those living in the place of residence. In installing active restrictions in educational institutions, the committee clarified that attention will be paid to the importance of continuing the activities of institutions for children of all ages that require parental supervision. The committee also insisted that the closure of an institution or part of it in the case of a person carrying the corona virus should not exceed 72 hours and in special cases 120 hours for the purpose of epidemiological investigation or prevention of infection.
In light of the committee’s comments and the concern about the manner in which enforcement powers are exercised, the law stipulates that a national enforcement directorate will be established in the Israel Police, which will determine the enforcement policy with emphasis on special populations and the possibility of avoiding fines.
The committee reduced the amounts of administrative fines for small businesses due to opening a business in a limited area in violation of the restrictions, so that for up to 5 employees the fine will be NIS 2,000, between 5 and 50 employees – NIS 4,000 and over 50 employees – NIS 6,000.
The committee’s spokesman, Dr. Adv. Gur Blay, said last night at the hearing: “The arrangement deviates from the king’s path, an unusual and unprecedented arrangement. In our opinion, the approval of a committee must be a condition for entry into force. In the government proposal emergency regulations always came retrospectively. Although there are up to 7 days or 14 days for approval, the committee can convene one minute after the regulations are approved by the government to approve them or postpone their validity. The correction made is an improvement over the original arrangement but it could have been further improved. It would have been appropriate to set a period of at least 72 hours or a longer period for pre-supervision. It should be noted that even under the new proposal, the government has flexibility in cases of urgency where the entire approval will be retrospective. “This means turning the Knesset into a rubber stamp.
“The government’s desire to deprive the Knesset of its primary authority – overseeing government work – is a blatantly illegal ordinance for coalition members. I call on coalition MKs to lift the miracle of rebellion! Let’s fight together for the honor of the Knesset and vote against the Corona Law,” On Facebook.