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Israel: COVID-19 fines delayed after haredi pressure

The bill to increase fines for disobeying government COVID-19 orders will not be discussed in the Knesset today, due to the decision by the haredi parties to oppose it.

The discussion in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation regarding the proposal was also postponed for the time being.

The United Torah Judaism faction announced that it had decided at the end of its meeting to oppose the law raising fines. Following the faction’s opposition, the Prime Minister announced he would meet with faction leaders Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni.

Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism delivered a speech in the Knesset this evening attacking criticism leveled at haredi conduct vis a vis government COVID-19 orders.

“After the haredi cities all turned green, I looked at the news and was surprised that they didn’t apologize to Rabbi Kanievsky and the haredi public; not only did they not apologize, they also continued to incite with lies, and now they’ve also increased the fines,” Gafni said.

He added, “I announced and I declare again now, United Torah Judaism will oppose in any forum increasing these unjustified fines. I’m glad the discussion in the Ministerial Committee was postponed and I’ll meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the issue. We mustn’t disobey Health Ministry orders, but we mustn’t impose such high fines on businesses and store owners who are currently in a difficult situation and anxious for their livelihood.”

The Shas faction also issued a statement in which it wrote, “Education is a supreme value. Also countries in the world did not close educational institutions when they imposed closures because they understood that education is a supreme value, the soul of the child and the future of the generation. Unfortunately, the Israeli government does not understand this and even decided to impose fines on educational institutions. In order to affront, it was decided that fines on educational institutions are like fines on weddings and parties.”

“Shas takes this very seriously and it was decided to forward the decision to Council of Sages President Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Shalom Cohen, to instruct the faction members how to vote in the Knesset,” the party said.

The coronavirus cabinet approved the proposal by the Prime Minister and Health Minister to submit government legislation on a significant increase in the level of fines for disobeying the “Corona Law” and Public Health Ordinance.

The fine for operating a place open to the public or a business is proposed to increase from the amount of NIS 5,000 as determined today, to NIS 10,000.

The fine for holding an event, party, conference, ceremony, festival, entertainment show, or art show in contravention of orders and disobeying the prohibition on opening educational institutions would increase from the amount of NIS 5,000 as set today to NIS 20,000.

Source: Arutz Sheva