Israel's opposition leaders on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his proposal to pass a "coronavirus law" that would allow the government to impose emergency measures on the public for up to 10 months.
Netanyahu warned of “a steep increase” in new coronavirus cases in a press conference on Saturday and added the government is considering a host of new steps to combat COVID-19, including introducing the contentious legislation.
The law would allow the government to legislate restrictions on Israeli public’s activity in both private and public space, in accordance with the Public Health Order, regulate operations of public transport and various workplaces as well as the right to declare certain geographical areas as “restricted”.
Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said the government is set to convene an "urgent meeting" sometime on Sunday, with other senior officials, in an effort to advance the legislation.
He said the law is meant "provide the government with effective tools to combat the virus, while preserving the rights of individuals.”
The opposition, however, claimed the law would grant the government "unnecessarily widespread powers."
Opposition Chairman MK Yair Lapid from Yesh Atid said the law could be used as a tool to thwart any public protests.
"It makes no sense to give the government such widespread powers for a period of ten months,” said Lapid. “This includes Shin Bet tracking and a possible ban on demonstrations, which are not convenient for the government,” he added.
“It is better the government focuses on helping the self-employed and small businesses to try and save the Israeli economy. "
Meretz Chairman MK Nitzan Horowitz said the bill is "fit for a dictatorship."
"This law violates individual liberties and fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and the right to privacy. This law is more dangerous than coronavirus itself," he said.