Likud Yanks Defiant MKs in Coronavirus Vote

Closed shops in the Mamilla Mall, Old City of Yerushalayim. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Likud enforced coalition discipline in an unambiguous manner on Monday as it replaced three of its own MKs to maintain its majority on a vote for the latest coronavirus regulations.

Likud MKs Amit Halevi and Ariel Kallner along with a third MK were unceremoniously yanked from Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee after they refused to vote in favor of opening businesses in outdoor shopping centers while keeping sidewalk shops closed. They said they could not in good conscience make such a distinction, according to Ynet.

In a call during the committee session, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein cited statistical differences justifying the regulation, but failed to persuade them.

Members of the Blue and White party went along with their coalition partners, filling out the majority for passage.

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said Monday morning that outdoor shopping centers and malls will open next Tuesday as part of the government’s exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown despite the Health Ministry’s pleas to reconsider the move.

“There is a decision to open malls, outdoor shopping centers and markets next Tuesday and if the morbidity index allows it, we should follow through,” Katz said. “All the talk in the middle from the Ministry of Health is unnecessary. It is their plan.”

Meanwhile, the National Security Council urged the coronavirus cabinet to act to prevent a rise in COVID-19 infections.

“Morbidity is again rising and we’re not responding to it as quickly as necessary,” an NSC document distributed to ministers said, according to media reports.

The NSC calls for weighing the reintroduction of measures such as overnight curfews, local lockdowns and closures on weekends.