Justice Committee Chairman Rabbi Asher Criticizes Members Who Oppose Third Lockdown

Rabbi Yaakov Asher. (Knesset)

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher (UTJ), who chaired the committee’s meeting for the first time on Tuesday since he recovered from the coronavirus, criticized the members of the committee who opposed the third nationwide lockdown, which came into force on Sunday at 5 p.m. in an effort to curb rising coronavirus infections.

“There is a new corona mutation of politicization, which we have seen in the committee over the past two days,” he said.

On Monday the committee approved the government’s lockdown measures by a vote of 8 to 7. The lockdown includes sweeping limitations on movement and commercial activity, but doesn’t close schools. Although declared to be for a two-week period, there is an option to extend it.

The latest lockdown rules bar Israelis from entering another person’s home; restrict movement to one kilometer from home, with exceptions, such as for vaccinations; shut down commerce (except for essentials), leisure and entertainment; limit public transportation to 50% capacity; and limit workplaces that do not deal with customers face-to-face to 50% capacity.

Fines for violators stand at NIS 500. Social gatherings will be restricted to 20 people in open areas and 10 people indoors. Restaurants will only be able to provide food via deliveries, with takeaway services temporarily banned. This was the biggest point of disagreement during the meeting in which the committee eventually approved the lockdown measures. As a compromise the government agreed that for the first week of lockdown, restaurants will be restricted to deliveries as planned, but the possibility of takeaway food will be revisited next week.

“It’s beginning to be in the style of ‘let’s harm health and pass the electoral threshold.’ There is a […] competition of who wants to alleviate more. Everyone sanctifies a different issue: One wants a mandate over the takeaways, just as someone had done in the past with the fitness centers. Particularly during this time of vaccinations, politics should be kept out of it,” Chairman Rabbi Asher said during Tuesday’s meeting.

“This competition – who unravels the lockdown faster – is a mistake which we will pay for, especially when this is supposed to be the last lockdown,” he said. “If we will carry out the lockdown responsibly, not in an extreme fashion, it could last two weeks, three weeks tops. The attempt that was made here yesterday to drop all the regulations was faced with the responsible conduct of my replacement, MK Michael Malchieli (Shas). Our job is to handle this matter responsibly and finally reach the end of it.”

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