Yesh Atid MK leaves virus committee after twice violating lockdown

Mickey Levy, 69, a former senior cop, visited son’s house, hosted grandchildren

MK Mickey Levy, seen during a meeting of the Finance Committee in the Israeli parliament on November 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Mickey Levy, seen during a meeting of the Finance Committee in the Israeli parliament on November 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A Yesh Atid lawmaker will resign from the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee after reportedly violating the lockdown rules on two occasions.

On Sunday, Channel 12 reported that opposition MK Mickey Levy, 69, spent hours at his son’s house on the first night of the Sukkot holiday on Friday, though the government’s health regulations ban entering another’s home. Levy countered the report by saying he had visited his son’s home to drop off food and left a short while later.

On Monday, the network reported another violation by Levy: on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, on September 18, hours after the nationwide lockdown came into effect, three of Levy’s granddaughters visited him for several hours before they were picked up by his daughter-in-law, according to the report.

In response to Monday’s report, Levy — a retired police commander — said that by mutual agreement with his party leader he would be stepping down from the parliamentary panel appraising the government’s virus policies and pay any fines issued against him over the violations.

Israelis wear protective face masks as they walk through the Hatikvah market in Tel Aviv, during a nationwide lockdown, on October 5, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“I apologize to the public from the bottom of my heart. Without going into details, my conduct was inappropriate and in conversation with [party leader Yair] Lapid, we agreed I would end my job on the Coronavirus Committee. I will certainly pay any fine imposed,” he tweeted.

“Even when it’s difficult to meet the grandchildren and children at this time, it is our job as public servants to provide a personal example and fully follow the rules,” added Levy.

Lapid confirmed the move. “I spoke to MK Mickey Levy and we jointly agreed that he’ll leave his position on the Coronavirus Committee, in light of his violations of the rules,” he tweeted.

“Mickey Levy apologized to the public and will of course pay any fine issued against him. I urge everyone to keep the rules and protect yourself and those around you.”

Levy is not the only politician to flout the virus rules.

Earlier Monday, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, who announced over the weekend that she had been infected with the coronavirus, faced calls for her dismissal or resignation after confessing that last week she broke a lockdown limit by traveling from her Tel Aviv home to family in the northern city of Tiberias. She also reportedly tried to hide the trip from a Health Ministry epidemiological investigation into her infection.

Then-social equality minister Gila Gamliel attends a ceremony in Jerusalem, on May 18 2020. (Flash90)

Gamliel did not admit to doing anything wrong, but allowed later on Monday that she may not have handled the situation correctly. “I acted in line with guidelines, though it is possible I erred in my judgment. I am sorry, I will pay the fine,” she said in a statement.

Israel has instated an ongoing national lockdown that, among other restrictions, limits Israelis to remaining within one kilometer of their homes, except for work or essential needs. Visiting others’ homes is banned.

In April, then-health minister Yaakov Litzman was diagnosed with COVID-19, reportedly after having attended prayer services that at the time were banned under his own ministry’s orders during a previous lockdown. Litzman, of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, later left his post in favor of the Housing Ministry, but last month resigned in protest of the current lockdown measures and the restrictions they place on synagogue services during the High Holiday season.

During the first lockdown earlier this year, there were multiple reports of lockdown violations by politicians and their families, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

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