Lapid: Netanyahu’s failure in fighting coronavirus is ‘poetic justice’

Bennett to PM: ‘People are dying because of you’ * Netanyahu accuses Left of playing politics

MK Yair Lapid speaks during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to quit, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2020 (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
MK Yair Lapid speaks during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to quit, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2020
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deserves all the blame for Israel’s dire situation in the coronavirus crisis because he claims sole credit for Israel’s successes, opposition leader Yair Lapid said in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Lapid called the situation “a kind of poetic justice,” because Netanyahu took credit for all of Israel’s successes. “I manage everything, success is mine alone. Me, me, me, me, me. And so now – this failure is only yours... It’s you. You, you, you, you, you.”
The opposition leader warned Netanyahu’s days as prime minister are coming to an end.
“We work for the citizens of Israel,” he said. “They decide when to hire us, and they decide when to fire us... They’ll fire you because you’re not doing a good job. You used to, but you’re not anymore.”
Even Netanyahu, a “master of spin... can’t convince unemployed people they have a job,” Lapid added.
The remarks came as part of a “40 signatures debate,” which means Netanyahu had to sit in the plenum as opposition MKs gave speeches against him, and then could give a response.
“Even if I brought a vaccine for coronavirus or world peace, you should say ‘why only now?’” Netanyahu said to the opposition. “We are working around the clock to support the citizens of Israel... My friends on the Left, for you everything is political – coronavirus, the economy and the protests.”
Netanyahu clarified his past remarks about “strange phenomena” among protesters against him, stating: “I am not talking about the demonstrations of those who were hurt by coronavirus. I meet with many of them. I listen to what they say, and get great support from them.”
The prime minister accused the media of being against him and spreading “fake news” about the magnitude of the protests outside his official residence.
He also condemned the “vulgar displays” against his wife seen at the protests, such as inflatable penises with the message “come on, Saraleh, we’re going home,” quoting the words Netanyahu said to his wife when he was voted out of office in 1999.
Netanyahu pointed out that in the 1990s, the Supreme Court greatly limited right-wing opponents of the Oslo Accords who wanted to demonstrate outside the prime minister’s residence to only a few hours and several hundred people.
“What has changed since then? The prime minister. What is prohibited against a prime minister from the Left is allowed against a prime minister from the Right. Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy,” Netanyahu lamented.
Meretz initiated the 40 signatures debate to discuss the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with party leader Nitzan Horowitz accusing the unity government of lying to the public by saying that it was founded to fight the virus. He accused Netanyahu of being too busy with his corruption trials, extending sovereignty and getting himself tax breaks to deal with the problem.
“The Israeli public will pay for your failures for a long time,” Horowitz said. “This chaos costs human lives that could have been saved with correct preparation to prevent the outbreak of the pandemic.”
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett lamented that Netanyahu refused to meet with him to hear about problems with how the government is dealing with the pandemic. He said he drew up multiple alternative plans, which were then ignored.
“I’m not trying to enter the most bloated and opaque government in the history of the country. I just want to help,” he said.
Earlier in the day, though, Bennett delivered a harsher attack against the government and its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
“I just came from a tour of stores in Jerusalem,” Bennett began in his speech, which was delivered after a bill by his fellow party member, Ayelet Shaked, failed to pass. “A guy named A., owner of a Judaica store – he is done. A 75-year-old man that was living off this income, paying his rent from this, buying bread from it. He’s done!”
Bennett asked, “What did you do in 80 days?” accusing the government of wrongdoing for discussing anything but the pandemic. “How much have you increased the number of tests? Nothing! I brought you MyHeritage [testing center] and you did nothing! What did you do to improve epidemiological investigations? Nothing! What did you do to create a Purple Ribbon program for flights? Nothing!”
Bennett, who appeared to stifle tears as he delivered his talk, had applied to be the coronavirus commissioner and, as defense minister, even offered to take on the job of running the country’s response. He said that he appealed to the prime minister multiple times and each time he was turned away. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Ronni Gamzu to be the coronavirus czar.
Bennett added that until now a two-meter falafel stand was allowed to have the same number of people eating in it as a 300-meter restaurant.
“Are you crazy?” he charged. “What did you do? What did you do? You are ruining the lives of millions of citizens of the State of Israel. You are killing them!
“Our people are dying,” he concluded. “You cannot blame anyone but yourselves.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman also spoke at the 40 signatures session. He lamented an “atmosphere of fear and censorship of public debate,” in which “any criticism of the government is presented as incitement that can lead to violence.”
Liberman warned that without open debate, there is no democracy.