PM to Fire Rebel Chair of Knesset Corona Committee

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel coronavirus
View of a closed swimming pool in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu intends to fire Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton from her position as chair of the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee after she stated on Motzoei Shabbos that she would oppose the closure of gyms unless infection data was presented to the committee.

According to a statement by the prime minister’s spokesman, a “senior source in the Likud” said that “the prime minister will fire Yifat Shasha-Biton from her position. It is impossible to continue working like this.”

Shasha-Biton first came to blows with Netanyahu and the government after she and the Knesset Coronavirus Committee voted on Tuesday to overturn a decision by the Cabinet and reopen gyms and public pools.

She was threatened with dismissal as a result of her actions, but a political outcry led Netanyahu and his allies to back down.

On Motzoei Shabbos, during an interview on Channel 12, she said that she would require statistics on the number of infections in gyms and pools, as well as for the other businesses and institutions the government said it wishes to shutter on Thursday night as part of its efforts to reduce the large number of COVID-19 cases the country has seen in the last two weeks.

“Tomorrow we will discuss the restrictions, we will demand statistics … we need to understand what the economic damage is compared with the health advantage of each step,” she said.

“At the moment there are no new statistics. The explanations in the government resolution state there are no new statistics, and they have to explain to us why, despite the lack of new statistics, they are again demanding to close gyms and pools. We will listen to all the professionals and make a decision.”

Shasha-Biton said in response to the threat to dismiss her that a central part of Knesset work was to carry out oversight over the work of the government and that mistakes should be corrected if necessary.

Meanwhile, the Blue and White party said in a statement that it will work to prevent the removal of Shasha-Biton.

Blue and White acted to prevent Shasha-Biton’s ouster earlier this week after her panel voted to reverse the Cabinet’s decision to shutter pools and gyms.

“I think the Corona Committee should approve the government’s decisions regarding the coronavirus, but at the same time, we must respect the role of the Knesset. I am working to prevent the dismissal of Shasha-Biton and I hope we will avoid this step,” Gantz said in a statement.