Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, June 28, 2020.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning opened his cabinet’s weekly meeting with references to the increasing numbers of coronavirus infections and the need to take steps to reduce them. The PM said:

The pandemic is raising its head around the world. We have passed the threshold of ten million infected people and 500,000 dead. I do not know if this is the second wave; I do know that this is a rising wave. Many countries that lifted the restrictions, upon a lessening of the disease, are now being compelled to re-impose the restrictions in order to block the spread. We have seen in other places that this is not a health or economic issue because a severe blow to health is also a very severe blow to the economy.

We have also been compelled to take actions. I likened our policy, when we opened up the economy upon a lessening of the disease, and said that this was an accordion policy. You open it and if you see the disease returning and spreading – you tighten it. This is not a zigzag; it is the policy of any sane country and it is also how we will act. Therefore, in light of the increased spread, today in the Corona Cabinet, we will discuss restrictions on gatherings alongside steps to increase enforcement and the steps that we are taking to make severing the chain of infection more efficient.

Alongside this, the Finance Ministry has been asked to render immediate assistance to sectors that have been hurt and – of course – see to the transfer of the funds that we have allocated, considerable funds that must reach the public, including the unemployed. If we succeed with health, we will succeed with the economy. It is my intention that we succeed with both. This requires determined action, which is not always simple, but is required at this time. We will take action regarding health and the economy and with God’s help we will be victorious.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also referred to the raucous demonstrations outside his official residence in Jerusalem, calling to unseat him over his criminal indictments as well as new, unofficial allegations of his criminal conduct regarding the purchase of German submarines and his permission to the Germans to sell the same submarines to Egypt. On Friday, one protest leader, Amir Haskel, a retired senior Air Force officer, was arrested by police in front of the residence, which brought in thousands of additional protesters the next day. The PM commented:

The freedom to demonstrate is not on the agenda. At the most difficult times vis-a-vis the coronavirus, amidst the tightest shutdowns, we allowed it. The claim that we are moving to restrict it is absurd and has no place. Alongside this, the rules and the law in the State of Israel must be maintained. It is not the prerogative of one side to decide it supports the rule of law and trample it at other times. I do not get involved in police decisions. As citizens, from a law-and-order perspective, I think that we need to do what they say. The condemnation of offenders – lawbreakers and demonstrators that overstep – must be equal on all sides of the political map.

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