Ministers in Israel Agree to End COVID-19 State of Emergency after Two Years2 min read
On Wednesday, Israeli ministers voted in favor of replacing the state of emergency in the country with a ‘special health situation’ mandate that would come into effect from March 1st. This had been in effect for two years because of the coronavirus pandemic. This decision came as there has been a significant drop in the COVID-19 caseload in Israel in recent weeks. The state of emergency had given the cabinet the power to introduce new restrictions before the approval of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee. Last month, a ‘coronavirus law’ was passed in Israel.
The new law states that if the cabinet wants to impose any restrictions in a ‘special health situation’, they would need to present them to the committee a minimum of five days before they have to go into effect and receive their approval. Furthermore, the Knesset plenum and the committee would also have the authority to outright cancel or amend the restrictions brought before them for approval. If a state of emergency is to be instituted by the cabinet once more, the entire plenum or the Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee needs to give its approval for it within seven days.
If neither of them gives approval, the validity of the decision made by the government will expire. MK Gilad Kariv, who is the chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, had written to Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to ask them to declare a special state of health. He said that with the fall in morbidity and the lifting of restrictions that had been set by the government, it was time to put an end to the state of emergency that had been imposed back in 2020 since the start of the pandemic.
Kariv stated in the letter that this transition would provide the government with the tools necessary for dealing with the pandemic in its existing form. Meanwhile, it would also restore the normal relationship between the legislature and the executive. Plus, he added that it would also convey a powerful message of normalcy in Israel. He said that in accordance with the law, a move to a ‘special health situation’ would help the government in implementing their policies for a longer period of time than in a state of emergency. He added that doing so would ensure the existence of a stable and clear routine for all citizens in Israel.
The Health Ministry released statistics on Wednesday, which showed that the death toll in Israel had reached 10,075. Furthermore, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 111,332. The number of people in hospitals stood at 1,459 and 673 of these patients were considered serious. About 244 individuals had been put on ventilators. In the last few weeks, Israel has seen a fall in the number of daily cases diagnosed, as well as the number of serious cases. This has prompted the government to lift many restrictions, including scrapping the Green Pass system.