No-Show Lapid Admits He Should Have Attended Coronavirus Cabinet Sooner

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) speaks with Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)

Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Thursday night that he opposes another lockdown and will be more involved in coronavirus deliberations from here on to share the responsibility with PM Naftali Bennett.

“I’m against a lockdown and will do everything to prevent a lockdown,” he told Channel 12.

Earlier this month, Lapid came under fire after reports that he hadn’t attended a single meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, though he said that he had sent representatives who reported back to him on the proceedings and that his physical presence wasn’t necessary.

In an interview with Channel 13 on Thursday, Lapid explained that he and Bennett had worked out a division of labor:

“The prime minister focused more on the pandemic, I focused more on passing the budget and maintaining the coalition,” he said. “It could be I missed the moment that I needed to get involved more.”

He said that media criticism of his absence from the meetings led him to reevaluate.

Lapid also painted his decision as a show of support for Bennett.

“I don’t want a situation to be created in which the prime minister is alone at the front absorbing all the criticism. I deserve the same criticism he does,” he said.

Answering that criticism, Lapid noted that it’s not just Israel which is struggling with the Delta variant.

“There’s a pandemic. This is not only an Israeli phenomenon,” he told the Kan public broadcaster. “There’s an outbreak of a new variant, the Delta variant… and on the whole I think we’re dealing with this fine.”

Echoing the stance taken by Bennett, he added: “We need to live a normal life as much as possible alongside the pandemic, and part of a normal life is that, on September 1, the kids are going to school.”

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