Ben-Dror Yemini
Ben-Dror Yemini
Photo: Ynet
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu denounces the judiciary at the opening of his trial on corruption charges, flanked by Likud lawmakers

A law fit for dictatorship, not Israel

Opinion: Under guise of coronavirus emergency, Netanyahu wants to give power to every inspector and police officer to enter the private home of any citizen, but no other democratic state has seen need for such legislation

Ben-Dror Yemini |
Published: 06.05.20 , 08:35
The “Special Coronavirus Powers" bill introduced by the government is meant to extend Israel’s emergency regulations.
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  • These regulations are a direct continuation of the state’s "Defense (Emergency) Regulations," which were implemented by the British in 1945 to fight the pre-state Zionist underground.
    בנימין נתניהו בפתח משפטובנימין נתניהו בפתח משפטו
    Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu denounces the judiciary at the opening of his trial on corruption charges, flanked by Likud lawmakers
    (Photo: Reuters)
    When the state came into being in 1948, the regulations were incorporated into Israel's domestic legislation by the Provisional Government, due to the fact that Israel was fighting for its life.
    Since then, Israel has been in a constant state of emergency and the regulations have been in effect. They have even been used on occasion.
    Now the coronavirus is putting the regulations back center stage.
    An overwhelming majority of Israelis took the lockdown seriously, because they genuinely felt it was an emergency, whether there were special regulations or not.
    Yet among those who violated the directives were the two most important people in the government - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin - who both invited family members over to celebrate the Seder meal on the first night of Passover.
    אבנר נתניהו חגג את הפסח עם אביו בניגוד להנחיות משרד הבריאותאבנר נתניהו חגג את הפסח עם אביו בניגוד להנחיות משרד הבריאות
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu violated the lockdown by inviting his son to Seder night
    (Photo: Screenshot)
    Now, Netanyahu wants to grant authority to every inspector and police officer to penetrate the private space of every individual, giving them the power in the spirit of the directives he himself violated.
    This is not emergency legislation. This is unnecessary, draconian legislation.
    Netanyahu’s actions are a cynical exploitation of the coronavirus, meant to give the prime minister the powers of a tyrant without the need for Knesset approval.
    "The world and Israel as part of it have been dealing with a pandemic since January 2020," the explanation for the new legislation says.
    That's true, but one has to wonder why countries far worse affected than Israel do not need such an emergency law? For that matter, why haven't democratic countries who dealt with the virus as well as Israel conferred such frightening powers on inspectors or police?
    Netanyahu opponents protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020 Netanyahu opponents protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020
    Netanyahu opponents protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020
    (Photo: EPA)
    The state needed 5,271 words to explain the legislation to the public and another 4,596 words to explain the purpose of the law itself.
    It was then that the public was asked to comment on the government's official site, which was opened to public comments.
    "Blatant trampling on basic rights," wrote a man named Ran Ezra.
    "Declaration of war on the citizens of Israel whose dignity, liberty and rights will be trampled roughly underfoot. The law is in the service of a dictatorial regime and is unmatched in any Western state," wrote another citizen named Reuven Lavi.
    "I want to see a policeman come into my house without a warrant. There will be a mess [balagan]," a woman named Yodfat Tohar wrote.
    "You have gone off the rails completely," commented Merav Mizrahi.
    Of the 4,695 comments on the official site, there was not - as far as I could see - a single supportive response.
    הפרה צו בידוד משרד הבריאות נגיף קורונה ישראל הפרה צו בידוד משרד הבריאות נגיף קורונה ישראל
    Health Ministry officials ensuring Israelis follow quarantine guidelines
    (Photo: Archive)
    Ministers and Knesset members, this is a law that is both unnecessary and a disgrace.
    There is no need to allow police to enter private homes. There is no need to give the prime minister - the initiator of the law who is currently on trial for corruption - authority befitting of a dictatorship and not a democracy.
    And most importantly, there is no connection between the bill and the coronavirus.
    If there is any wisdom in your heads at all and if democracy is still important to you, do not let this bill pass.
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