Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, June 14, 2021.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday evening convened a debate on preparations by the education system ahead of the September 1 opening of the school year. Education Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope) was there to present her plan for the opening of the school year but made headlines by reportedly standing up to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over his frequently repeated gospel that Israel’s fate depends on everyone becoming vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Currently, an estimated one million Israelis, out of a population of some nine million, are not vaccinated, and many of them are school-age minors.


According to Israel Hayom, Minister Shasha Bitton surprised the prime minister and everyone else in attendance, including the Health Minister, the Finance Minister, the Director-General of the Finance Ministry, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, the Deputy Attorney General, the head of the Health Ministry Public Health Service, and medical professionals, when she said that “the vaccines are controversial,” and therefore, she does not agree to vaccinations in the education system nor does she even support encouraging students to get vaccinated.

Education Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton’s back is turned to the camera as PM Naftali Bennett opens Sunday’s meeting on the new school year, July 25, 2021. / Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

According to Israel Hayom, Shasha Bitton denied the clash story, but confirmed that she opposes vaccinations in the schools because “the role of the education system is to educate.” She is also against “vaccination happenings” for school-age children, citing the professionals at the debate who insisted that parents must be present when their children are vaccinated.

Prime Minister Bennett said at the start of the meeting:

“We are here to hear about the plans of the Education Ministry and the Health Ministry on how we are going to open the school year in an orderly manner. Our goal, as you all know, is not to harm the economy, education, or daily routines.
I will say that in order to reach this, and I think that this is now crying out around the world, it is clear that we need to vaccinate as much of the Israeli public as possible. I see what they are doing in the US, France, and Britain to provide incentives for vaccinations. In the end, we also know that we need a critical mass to block the pandemic; then we must provide incentives for everyone.
I also want to hear from the experts, and from the Chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities, and the ministers. We will hear the remarks and we will make decisions.”

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