“Bennett’s explanation for his family’s trip abroad, contrary to the warnings he gave to the public, is worse than the act itself,” said MK Israel Katz.
By Shalev Shalom/TPS
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is facing broad public criticism after his family left for a vacation abroad, defying his own recommendation not to do so.
After the discovery of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Israel and its spread around the world, Bennett convened a special press conference on Friday and called on Israelis to refrain from flying to other countries.
However, his wife and four children left on a vacation abroad, to an undisclosed destination.
Bennett’s office stated Wednesday evening that the vacation was planned ahead of time, but was canceled in light of the decision to define the destination country, Mauritius, as a Red state.
“Following the decision of the Coronavirus Cabinet to leave the skies open to Israeli traffic, the holiday destination was changed, in accordance with the updated guidelines,” the statement read.
“The Bennett family will, of course, follow all the guidelines and rules that apply to Israeli citizens,” his office added.
Responding to the criticism in a long post on Facebook that touched on a variety of corona-related issues, Bennett wrote that his family “is subject to exactly the same rules that apply to all Israeli citizens. I understand the criticism, but since Friday we have learned more about the variant and in which countries it has spread, and the Coronavirus Cabinet has made decisions as to which countries are allowed to travel and under what conditions.”
Her added that “Israel’s citizens are just as important to me as my own children.”
Knesset Member Israel Katz was not impressed by Bennett’s explanations and said that “Bennett’s explanation for his family’s trip abroad, contrary to the warnings he gave to the public, is worse than the act itself.”
He quoted Bennett who declared that “‘from Friday we learned more about the variant’ – so why did you not update the public and change the recommendation? Zero reliability.”
Tourism industry officials complained that after Bennett recommended not to fly abroad on Friday many Israelis canceled their trips, causing significant damage to the already battered industry which now suffered further cancellations and damages of millions of shekels.
“At the same time, his family chooses to fly. Just outrageous,” they are quoted as saying.
Minister Orna Barbivai, a member of the Coronavirus Cabinet, told Udi Segal and Sefi Ovadia that “there is a public perception problem here, I cannot deny it. I would not travel abroad when the Prime Minister recommended avoiding it, but it is their decision. They will have to face the public criticism ”
Political commentator Sima Kadmon wrote that “there is no other way to say it: the Bennett family’s decision to go on a Hanukkah holiday abroad is delusional, outrageous, not to mention silly in a worrying way.”
Political correspondent Tal Shalev told 103FM Radio that “this is the number one mistake in Naftali Bennett’s parade of mistakes.”
Reporter Guy Peleg said “maybe his wife disregards him, what do you want from him? Maybe he’s a weak man whose opinion is not heard at home, and she told him ‘I do not care what you think, I’m flying.’”
World Israel News Staff contributed to this report.