Israel’s parliament passed a fast-track bill late Monday night, authorizing the government to enact emergency ordinances without legislative oversight or approval. The controversial bill, which was pushed through by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was intended to assist the government in combating the surging coronavirus cases in the country with harsher restrictions on public gatherings. The bill enables the government to pass ordinances that will immediately attain a legal status without being voted on by parliament. Parliament will then have one week to debate and vote on the ordinance. If a vote is not held within a week or is held and the ordinance is voted down, the ordinance is invalidated. Last Thursday, Netanyahu complained that the prolonged voting process in parliament was impeding his handling of the crisis: “Legal rules force us – it’s just unbelievable – to pass everything through the parliament.” After the bill was passed, opposition leaders warned that Netanyahu was inching closer to dictatorship, comparing Israel’s state with that of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. On Monday evening, a new poll showed an all-time low in public trust and support for the prime minister’s handling of the crisis, with negative numbers topping positive ones for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic.
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