Netanyahu Kobi Gideon/GPO

The government on Sunday night reached a last-minute compromise, according to which the coronavirus lockdown, which was set to expire at midnight, will be extended until Friday morning at 7:00 a.m.

Another meeting will be held on Wednesday in which it will be decided whether to continue the lockdown beyond Friday.

In addition, the government approved the extension of the closure of entry into and exit from Israel, with the exception of unusual cases, in accordance with the existing regulations for an additional seven days until Sunday, February 7, 21 at midnight.

The government also approved the establishment of an Exceptions Committee to approve applications for arrival in Israel for humanitarian and special reasons, during a period in which restrictions on entry into Israel exist. The committee will be headed by Minister Yuval Steinitz (or someone on his behalf). The committee will be composed of representatives of the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Health, Transportation, Diaspora and Aliyah and Absorption.

In addition, returnees to Israel from all countries will be obligated to quarantine in hotels provided by the state, from Tuesday, February 2 until Sunday, February 7. Exceptional cases will be examined individually before a committee of the Ministry of Health at Ben Gurion Airport.

The compromise was reached after hours of deliberations and an argument between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz over how long the lockdown should be extended.

Netanyahu had sought a one-week extension while Gantz demanded that the lockdown be lifted this coming Thursday.

"We will discuss extending the lockdown until Sunday," Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting, asking the ministers "not to make politics out of it. Do not focus on violations by one public. We must prevent gatherings in every sector. Today we raised the fines as we promised to do."

"We will bring a million more vaccines within a week - we will be able to open up the economy and education gradually," he added.

Gantz said at the meeting that he would agree to extend the lockdown until Thursday. "The lockdown also has a price. It is an economic price, it is a social price but it is also a health price. We cannot continue with these lockdowns for long."

An hour before the lockdown was to expire, Minister Aryeh Deri proposed a compromise: A vote on the proposal of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health (extension of the lockdown for a week) and holding another discussion on Monday on shortening the lockdown.

Gantz objected and suggested, "Let's vote on my proposal [to extend the lockdown] until Thursday and then talk about the rest." Netanyahu responded: "That is impossible, there is a danger to lives here. Benny, you said not to drive the public crazy, do not ignore the curve we are seeing here."

The argument between the two lasted until moments before the lockdown was set to expire at which point the compromise to extend the lockdown until Friday was reached.