Coalition Contretemps Over Covid Info

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Defense Minister and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

The arrival of Covid vaccines in Israel may stem the pandemic, but it won’t provide a cure for what ails Israeli politics.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ and his coalition partner Defense Minister Benny Gantz crossed swords yet again Sunday on the latter’s role in the government, in particular his entitlement to be consulted on coronavirus policy.

After Gantz demanded, in a coronavirus cabinet meeting, to be updated on the plans for receiving, storing and distributing the vaccines so that the IDF could get to work on it, Netanyahu made it plain that he would not be given the information.

“On the issue of the vaccinations committee, I would like to make it clear: There is a professional committee that was established and is dealing with the issue of vaccines including the manner in which they will be allocated. The political elements must be kept away from it, as is done around the world. We have checked this in other countries and this is what they do there. This is a completely professional committee,” he said, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office which did not mention Gantz.

The contretemps comes on the same day that it was reported the Health Ministry signed an agreement with Moderna to triple the amount of coronavirus vaccines that the company will provide to Israel in 2021, from two million vaccines to six million, enough to inoculate three million citizens. Last week, it was reported that Pfizer will be shipping up to four million doses of its vaccine in December.

Blue and White politicians have complained that they have been denied access to basic information about the quantity of doses and the expected arrival dates, beyond what they read in the news.

In recent months, it also emerged that Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White) were excluded from negotiations with the UAE and Bahrain, and more recently, the secret meeting in Saudi Arabia in a bid to normalize ties with them was kept secret from Gantz and Ashkenazi as well.