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Bennett: I don’t understand the government’s handling of the pandemic

Former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday criticized the conduct of the government in the fight against the coronavirus.

“The government does not carry out the basic move of establishing an emergency epidemic plan, and that is why it is constantly moving between extremes – between go out and celebrate and closing down Israel. A kind of bipolar syndrome,” Bennett said in an interview with the Knesset Channel.

“This is not the way. There should be no festivities when there is a decline [in the number of cases] and no need to go into mourning when there is a rise [in the number of cases]. A set of tests has to be established. I published a plan on how to deal with the second wave. We must reach 100,000 tests before winter, and at the present there should be about 40,000 tests a day,” Bennett added.

He continued, “I can’t understand it, after all our Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Gantz are not bad people, they don’t mean to do bad things, I can’t understand where this slackness is coming from, where the insensitivity to small businesses is coming from, there are one million unemployed people because of the bipolar movement that constantly opens and closes. Instead of just setting up this plan and then not having to close down.”

“There are outbreaks all over the country right now and that’s wrong. This thing is going to hurt livelihoods once again, they are going to close restaurants, we are going to see upside-down chairs in restaurants, we will see closed summer camps. It’s wrong,” Bennett said.

Asked whether his plan is being ignored for political reasons, Bennett replied, “I forwarded the plan to the Prime Ministers, I forwarded the plan to the Minister of Health, I have forwarded it to the head of the National Security Council, and I hope they are taking action. I hear people say it’s complicated, hear officials say they don’t believe in tests. What does that mean ‘not believing in testing’? South Korea is doing tests, Japan is doing tests, Germany is doing tests, all the countries that are not under lockdown are doing tests. The easiest way is to shut things down and trample the livelihood of people.”

“Those million unemployed people who live on their savings, they’ve already burned the savings, they won’t be able to withstand a second wave. People will be without bread. And what do I ask for? I don’t ask for government benefits, don’t bring me money, don’t bring me anything. Just let us work.”

Bennett spoke out against Defense Minister Benny Gantz and said, “It is true that when the epidemic broke out, I took the entire Ministry of Defense and the IDF and defined [the fight against the virus] as a major task, and we went and set up hotels, and we treated returnees from abroad, and we treated 300,000 adults, and treated Bnei Brak and Deir al-Assad, and the respirators. Now it looks like we are headed towards a different reality.”

“The Ministry of Defense must unequivocally run the event. The Ministry of Health is a great ministry with good people, but it is not an emergency ministry, it is not an executive office, it is a regulator. Regulators do not know how to set up such complex systems, so when big problems arise, you go to the IDF and that’s fine. I expect and urge Gantz to take responsibility.”

Bennett also commented on the issue of sovereignty and said, “In history, there are windows of opportunity that open and close. The window of opportunity opened because of the international situation, and if we don’t do it now, I don’t know when we’ll do it. So, I say, Netanyahu promised and pledged to apply sovereignty to 30 percent of Judea and Samaria, to the entire Jordan Valley, over the entire settlement enterprise, without establishing a Palestinian state. Go for it and you will receive backing from me.”

Asked whether Netanyahu should publicly declare that he is against a Palestinian state, Bennett replied,

“He does not have to speak publicly in this way. In any case, they will never include a Palestinian state in a government decision. So I tell Netanyahu, who has been talking about this for quite a few months now and creating a lot of resistance: Just do it.”

On the danger of an escalation with the Arabs following the application of sovereignty, he said, “Applying sovereignty is such a significant event, we determine the territories of our country, it is a once-in-a-century event. I am not belittling this and we need to tell the IDF and the security services to prepare, but we will overcome it. We need to show courage and I do not suggest that we scare ourselves.”

Original: Arutz Sheva