Knesset plenum
Knesset plenum Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

The Knesset voted overnight to grant the Israeli government broad powers to enact new restrictions aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic, limiting the requirement that new regulations be approved by the Knesset.

Up until now, new regulations restricting public activity or empowering police to issue fines have required not only approval by the government, but must pass a final vote by the Knesset, as well.

Now, however, the government will be permitted to pass new regulations without first seeking Knesset approval, and will be able to put new regulations into effect immediately. The Knesset will retroactively approve new regulations after they go into effect, with approval required within one week to make the restrictions permanent.

Less than half of the 120-member Knesset was present during the vote, with just 53 MKs taking part. Of those, 29 voted in favor of the bill, with 24 voting against.

The bill was passed just after 4:00 a.m. Tuesday, following a brief debate in the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee.

The Knesset also voted overnight to approve the increased fine for people found not wearing masks in public, raising the fine from 200 to 500 shekels.

Opposition MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid-Telem) blasted the government for backing the new law, calling it a form of “dictatorship”.

“The government now decides, and the Knesset just has to approve. One person will decide, and then afterwards the whole government says ‘yes’. That’s a crazy system, a dictatorship. This law allows the government to do what it wants without Knesset oversight.”