Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz released statements on Wednesday vowing to make the right life-or-death decisions.
“As prime minister, I am obligated to protect your lives,” Netanyahu said. “It must be understood that there is danger to life, and therefore, there is no choice. We will make the tough decisions and save lives.”
Gantz told his Blue and White ministers: “Our decisions have an impact on people’s lives, and we will make them only in coordination with the professionals.”
Such statements would be commendable if Netanyahu and Gantz had backed them up with actions.
But instead they conducted two days of marathon debates in the coronavirus cabinet that were mostly devoted to the questions of whether to close down synagogues and political demonstrations.
Those who wanted to close down one and not the other dug in their heels and issued threats, while those who wanted to compromise were drowned out by their louder counterparts at the extremes.
Netanyahu’s endgame was so unclear that Blue and White ministers had to keep asking him what it was. Gantz tried to sway the conversation away from the protests unsuccessfully and apparently unconvincingly.
Shas leader Aryeh Deri, who vowed to be the voice of moderation when he returned to politics after serving jail time, did not accept the plea of the late Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s son Rabbi David Yosef to close down synagogues on Yom Kippur.
Instead, he threatened to quit the cabinet and follow in the footsteps of UTJ leader Ya’acov Litzman.
Ministers even invoked the Chief Rabbinate that they almost always ignore to look for cover for their decisions.
Likud MKs Haim Katz and Miki Zohar called for elections on Wednesday, rather than continue with a government that was not succeeding in making crucial decisions.
But a poll broadcast on Channel 12 indicating that Yamina was only eight seats behind Likud made elections increasingly unlikely.
Instead, the ministers will continue bickering, and lives will continue to be lost.
There is a time for leadership, when indecisiveness kills. This is that time.