Israel Poised to Extend Lockdown as Vote Set for Sunday

Israeli police at a temporary roadblock in Tel Aviv making sure people are keeping to the government’s guidelines during a nationwide lockdown. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Knesset is slated to vote Sunday to increase fines for violations of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in a move which is aimed at ensuring support for a government decision to extend the lockdown by an additional week.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin announced on Friday that the Knesset will convene Sunday afternoon to deliberate and vote on a bill pushed by Blue and White which would increase the size of fines imposed on individuals, businesses, and institutions violating the coronavirus lockdown.

Once the bill is passed, Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) will drop his opposition to a government resolution extending the lockdown by an additional week.

Earlier on Friday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein blasted Blue and White over their refusal to back an extension of the lockdown without an increase in fines.

Edelstein warned that without an extension of the lockdown, the pandemic would rage “out of control” in Israel.

“Something dangerous may happen here at midnight on Sunday,” Edelstein said in a statement. “The lockdown will end due to political games, restrictions will be removed and recklessness will reign. Israel will become an uncontrollable coronavirus incubator.”

He appealed to the public to “be responsible, and continue to take the restrictions upon yourselves, even if you are not forced to. Keep yourselves, your families and your friends safe. Reckless politicians do not obligate you to be reckless.”

Should the Knesset fail to pass the legislation and a lockdown extension on Sunday, there will be a period during which there will be no restrictions at all until the Cabinet can meet to order a new lockdown.