COVID-19: Gov't management 'is not the end of the world' - Finance Min.

Liberman's comments came following a poll broadcast on Channel 12 on Sunday night that found that 63% of Israelis believe their government is handling the pandemic poorly.

 Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman at Tuesday's Maariv Conference. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman at Tuesday's Maariv Conference.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman downplayed the public outcry against his government’s handling of the coronavirus on Monday, accusing the press of scaring the public.

“It’s not the end of the world,” he said at a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction in the Knesset. “It’s irresponsible to reach apocalyptic conclusions.”

Liberman’s comments came following a poll broadcast on Channel 12 on Sunday night that found 63% of Israelis believe their government is handling the pandemic poorly. Liberman in particular received bad grades in the poll.

The finance minister relayed a list of steps the government has taken to help businesses harmed by the pandemic. He noted that there has been compensation for Israelis in quarantine since August, and for parents of quarantined children since before the start of the school year.

He said that on Sunday the cabinet would approve giving independent workers similar compensation, and they would be able to receive it retroactive to July.

 Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman defends the budget in a Knesset address. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman defends the budget in a Knesset address. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Liberman also said that hotels and El Al have been helped and smaller businesses in the tourism industry will be helped as well.

“We have proven to be receptive,” he said. “Those who need help get help. Those who need will get what they deserve. But we will make decisions based on economic, not populist reasons.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid canceled his Yesh Atid faction meeting because he came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. In his prepared remarks that he posted on Facebook, he also defended his government’s handling of the virus.

“Not all the government’s decisions about the coronavirus have been correct,” he said. “There is no such thing as making no mistakes, not in Israel and not anywhere else. The question is whether we want to get angry or deal with it together.”

Lapid said the government would find a way to balance between the need to maintain industries that have been harmed and its responsibility to the long-term good of the economy.

“We will not abandon those who have been harmed by the pandemic,” he said. “We will make sure that they will get compensated. But the government does not have unlimited money.”

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said there is anarchy and abandonment. Noting Liberman’s statement about people in the tourism industry needing a new profession, Netanyahu said it is Bennett and his ministers who should be forced to get another job.

“The blundering government of Bennett, Lapid and Abbas must immediately compensate the citizens, independent workers and businesses harmed daily by corona,” Netanyahu wrote on social media. “Everyone sees the truth: Bennett has lost control over corona.”