Lockdown Debate Turns into Partisan Spat

YERUSHALAYIM -
Traffic jams on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, as commuters drive home as Israel enters its third nationwide lockdown, Sunday night. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

A debate over whether the schools should be exempt from the latest coronavirus shutdown turned into another political spat between the Likud and Blue and White parties on Sunday.

The Likud accused Blue and White of “endangering the lives of Israeli citizens” and seeking to “disrupt the lockdown for political reasons to prolong the closure during the election.”

The statement was in response to Blue and White’s support for a Knesset measure allowing grades 5 to 10 to fully reopen, which its own MKs had voted to keep closed in the cabinet.

“Blue and White must stop the political games and join Prime Minister Netanyahu in an effort for a fast and well-enforced lockdown together with a huge vaccination campaign that will make Israel one of the first countries in the world to emerge from the coronavirus and open the economy,” the statement said.

Blue and White shot back that it was only backing a policy that other countries had adopted.

“In all countries of the world, the education system also operates in a lockdown.,” the party asserted.

“Netanyahu, who has avoided dealing with hotspots and raising fines for narrow political reasons, continues to use the coronavirus for his political needs. We will not accept moral sermons from those who bring hundreds of thousands of families to poverty and have not transferred a budget just to escape the law and harm the justice system,” the party charges.

Earlier on Sunday, the Knesset coronavirus oversight committee reversed a cabinet decision to keep grades 5-10 closed while other grades reopened, despite warnings from Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and coronavirus commissioner Nachman Asch that it would drive infections up and prolong the lockdown.