Netanyahu's Office Agrees to Disclose Materials on COVID

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 2020.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 2020. Credit: Emil Salman
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Wednesday that it would publicly disclose materials that had been only presented to the government and the coronavirus cabinet as Israel keeps battling the pandemic.

The Prime Minister's Office has agreed to present the materials following a petition filed with the Jerusalem District Court by Movement for Freedom of Information, Haaretz and other media bodies, as well as attorneys Shachar Ben-Meir and Yitzhak Aviram.

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The PMO noted that some of the information would be censored.

The petition relies on the freedom of information law, and its goal is to make the full transcripts from government meeting public and reveal how cabinet decisions are made on battling the coronavirus crisis.

"There is no justification not to reveal decision-making processes in regards to the coronavirus crisis. On the contrary: If in war it is sometimes essential to keep some information secret to beat the enemy, but when battling a plague it is necessary to expose information to beat the enemy – the virus," the petition read.

Not only that this information is essential for the public, the petition said, "keeping it from the public inflicts real damage on the public's health, Israel's economy and its democratic regime."

The Jerusalem District Court ruled that it lacks the authority to order the disclosure of the full transcripts, but had instructed the government to present the materials presented before the court.

So far the government has refused to reveal the documents, claiming they are "top secret," and therefore should be filed away in Israel's national archives, only making them public in 2050.

The petitioners intend to take the matter to the High Court of Justice and demand that the PMO reveals the full transcripts, and not only background materials, which were presented last time Netanyahu's office agreed to disclose documents from cabinet deliberations.

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