שוטרים עוצרים צעירה שהפרה בידוד ביתי בתל אביב
Police arrested a woman who violated her quarantine in Tel Aviv
Photo: Amir Meiri
Police arrest a woman who violated her quarantine in Tel Aviv

Fighting coronavirus should not weaken Israeli democracy

Opinion: A caretaker government that does not have majority support from voters or members of Knesset must not be allowed to decide on measures that are undemocratic and compromise the civil rights of Israelis

Ben-Dror Yemini |
Published: 03.16.20 , 23:37
These are not the best of times. We are combating a strain of coronavirus that is killing hundreds in Europe and destroying the world's economy.
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  • These are also the days when Israeli lawmakers are attempting to form a new government in the wake of the March 2 elections.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    שוטרים עוצרים צעירה שהפרה בידוד ביתי בתל אביב
    שוטרים עוצרים צעירה שהפרה בידוד ביתי בתל אביב
    Police arrest a woman who violated her quarantine in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Amir Meiri)
    An emergency requires emergency measures. No one can dispute that, and no one questions most but not all of the measures taken.
    The government's decision to track the movement of citizens using Israel's secret service is a step too far. We know where it starts but cannot say where or how it will end.
    Coronavirus obsessions aside, not everything should be permissible. There could be other measures used to track confirmed cases.
    A broad consensus is needed when a government overreaches as this one has, harming the privacy and basic rights of its citizens.
    But Israel has been governed by a caretaker government for a long time, one that cannot claim majority support in the public or in the Knesset. Such a government must not take these extraordinary steps. It simply does not have the authority.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: EPA)
    If Netanyahu wants extreme measures to be taken, he should gather leaders of all Knesset factions and see if they agree.
    If there was any certainty that tracking citizens with technology used to fight terror would guarantee a stop of the coronavirus spreading to more people, one could perhaps justify the move, but that is not the case.
    In addition to the thousands already quarantined who will now be tracked in this manner, many thousands more, who may be undiagnosed carriers are still out and about.
    Health Ministry directives banning gatherings, closing schools and businesses and suspending commerce are all in place in order to contain the spread of the disease.
    Employing anti-democratic measures is premature at the very least.
    Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who is not supported by the majority of Knesset members, has said he would block a vote to elect a new speaker.
    The explanation he offered on Sunday claimed his removal would harm efforts to form a unity government. But that is unbelievable.
    Edelstein's refusal to allow the newly elected parliament to fill important positions according to the majority vote is coming very close to an act of dictatorship.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    חיטוי הכנסת
    חיטוי הכנסת
    Disinfecting the Knesset plenum before new members are sworn in
    (Photo: Knesset Spokesperson)
    Democracy is more than a majority rule. It is built on basic laws and civil rights.
    This caretaker government that does not enjoy the support of the majority of voters, is assaulting the basic rights of Israelis and democracy itself.

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