Netanyahu blasts opposition member who calls for disobeying government health restrictions

Israel Beitenu head Avigdor Liberman reacted: “The prime minister is spreading chaos, a plague worse than corona.” 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter Monday night to the heads of the four parties in the opposition accusing them of harming the public and advocating “anarchy” by panning the government’s efforts at controlling the coronavirus pandemic.

He went so far as to insinuate that if people died, it would be their fault.

“I saw with worry and pain irresponsible statements by you that weaken, divide and harm the unity of the public in the fight against the coronavirus,” he wrote in the missive that was also released to the press.

“Such dangerous and irresponsible statements by elected officials can bring about refusal to follow directives of the Health Ministry and police and, as a consequence, loss of life.”

In a briefing to reporters after touring the Coronavirus Command Center Monday, the prime minister doubled down on his warning.

“I sent a letter to the opposition heads and said, ‘Show responsibility. Don’t lead the country to anarchy that will lead to many severely ill patients and many deaths.’ We have to make very complex decisions, but they are correct [ones],” he said.

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Opposition politicians have been criticizing the government’s constant reversals on restrictions since the second wave of Covid-19 infections. The condemnations have only grown louder over the last few weeks as more than 2,000 people a day have been confirmed as having the virus, with the total number of deaths now over the 1,000 mark.

Netanyahu was reacting specifically to Israel Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Liberman’s charge that the decisions on lockdowns or curfews of cities hardest hit by the virus were being made by the Corona Cabinet for political reasons unrelated to health and “therefore all decisions made are blatantly illegal.”

Liberman continued, “I suggest that the public act according to common sense and not according to government guidelines.”

He later grew personal, telling Israeli website N12, “The prime minister is spreading chaos, a plague worse than corona.”

The prime minister is being challenged on the decision-making process not only by government foes. Knesset Coronavirus Committee chairwoman Yifat Shasha-Biton of his own party, who has been a constant critic, demanding that policies be based on scientific evidence alone, said the flip-flopping on recommendations is politically based and must end.