Activists Briefly Block Knesset in Protest Over Law Limiting Government Oversight

After a night of mass protest in Jerusalem, proposed bill that would be voted on Wednesday allows the Israeli government to get around parliament on coronavirus policy

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activists blocking entrance to the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 22, 2020.
activists blocking entrance to the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 22, 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Dozens of activists blocked the Knesset's three entrances on Wednesday morning, protesting a bill that will allow the Israeli government to sidestep parliament in implementation of COVID-19 policy.

The protesters, part of the global Extinction Rebellion movement, joined forces with anti-Netanyahu protesters, after a night of mass protest in Jerusalem which saw thousands gather outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence, calling for his resignation.

The activists on Wednesday blocked roads leading to the Knesset, and were forcefully removed by the police, which said four were detained.

Later on Wednesday, the Knesset will vote on the proposed bill, which allows executive branch decisions to go into immediate effect even before debate and vote in parliament.

According to the bill, while the government decisions would go into effect immediately, relevant Knesset committees will have seven days to debate them, with the option of a three-day extension. If the relevant committee does not approve the government decision within this time frame, it would be voted on by the Knesset. If either a committee or the Knesset decide not to approve a decision – or if no final decision is made within the aforementioned time frame – the decision will be canceled.

Demonstrations have become a regular occurrence in Jerusalem. They have also become increasingly tense, with police clashing with protesters. On Tuesday, 34 people were arrested.

Israeli protesters clash with police during a demonstration against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, Jerusalem, July 21, 2020Credit: Emil Salman

They have grown in size in recent days, as increasing distress caused by the coronavirus-induced economic crisis compelled other groups and individuals to join.

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