Israel Clamps Down on Protests, A-G Seeks Same for PM
In the dead of night and with hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament passed an unprecedented amendment on Tuesday, handing the government powers to restrict and even ban political demonstrations during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the amendment, passed with the support of right-wing Likud and centrist Blue and White lawmakers, citizens can travel no more than a kilometer from home to participate in demonstrations. Until now, protests were excluded from the general lockdown imposed two weeks ago for a second time during the pandemic. During the parliamentary debate, protesters who attempted to block the Knesset’s entrance were arrested. Earlier on Tuesday, Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, was revealed to have said in a taped media interview that he was inching toward a decision to demand that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu temporarily step down or otherwise recuse himself in relevant fields of decision-making during his corruption trial. In the interview, to be published later on Wednesday, Mandelblit, a Netanyahu appointee who earned the prime minister’s enmity by recommending that he be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, said he believed that recent prime ministerial decisions and actions have been aimed at interfering in the trial. They include attempts to appoint law-enforcement officials and pass amendments that would weaken the judicial system. Mandelblit also cited Netanyahu’s continued refusal to sign an agreement barring moves seen as a conflict of interests.