Israel will do all it can to keep the economy open despite the spread of the Omricon COVID-19 variant in the country and around the world, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference in a pre-recorded address Bennett spoke of the formation of the current state of the pandemic. “We got through the Delta variant without a single day of lockdown. We didn’t close businesses and we didn’t close the education system,” he said. “Now too, in the coming days we will undergo a very severe wave of the Omicron variant. We have bought several weeks of time and we have prepared, we’re ready. I can’t yet say exactly how this wave will affect us; I can say that we shall make every effort possible to maintain continuity in the economy.”
He also spoke about the formation of his government and the passing of a state budget after three years without one. “Friends, we are freeing Israel from the jam,” he said. “The forward thinking has also set us goals for growth of the high-tech sector in Israel. The story in Israel is that there are two economies: there’s high-tech and the rest. So, first of all, the most basic thing is to bring more groups within the State of Israel into high-tech, whether it’s Arabs, or haredim, or outlying regions, and we’re bringing and returning brains to Israel, and more, and we’ve allocated no small amount of money to these matters.”
Bennett said that unless all sectors were integrated into Israeli society, there would be “ticking bombs” here. “The truth is that it is clear to me, as it is to you, that we must build the State of Israel not just on the basis of high-tech, for all the love we have for it. Advancing all sections of the population and integrating them into society is a vital component in creating a strong Israel. If we don’t do that, we’ll have ticking bombs. So the economic growth that we shall bring is accompanied by a series of very important social reforms.”
“After years of neglect, we a moving forward in closing gaps in the Arab sector, and especially in extirpating crime in the Arab street. After all, if shots are being fired in the street, you can’t study for matriculation exams. We are dealing with what has been neglected for years. At the same time, among the haredim, we are making a historic move, simply historic, that no-one has had the courage to make — to lower the age of exemption from military service for haredim.”