Israeli Court to Nix Gov’t Surveillance Program Unless Parliamentary Oversight Established
Israel’s Supreme Court will nix the government’s controversial coronavirus-related surveillance program unless parliamentary oversight is established within the next five days. The ruling came in response to numerous petitions questioning the legality of the implementation of tracking measures – previously reserved for counter-terrorism purposes – geared toward curbing the spread of the pathogen. As a result of the program, hundreds of Israelis over the past two days have received text messages instructing them to self-quarantine as they had come into contact with a carrier of the virus. The petitions were filed following a contentious move by the speaker of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, who on Wednesday shuttered the legislature until at least next week, ostensibly over ongoing political gridlock in Jerusalem in the wake of a third consecutive inconclusive election earlier this month. Yuli Edelstein said his decision was made after his Likud party and the rival Blue and White list again failed to agree on the formation of a so-called national unity government. He added that the “democratic process and parliamentary oversight” would be restored when “we are prepared for it.” Critics, however, contend that the maneuver was much more personal in nature, following Edelstein’s refusal to convene the plenum for a vote to replace him as speaker with a Blue and White lawmaker. Additionally, it follows the filing of four bills aimed at preventing an indicted prime minister from either continuing to serve in the post or from forming a new coalition, which would effectively oust Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.