Leader of the Opposition MK Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) addressed the Knesset Plenum in the opening sitting of the winter assembly on Monday, saying: “The first 100 days of this government can be summed up in one sentence: The government contains, the media feed [the public], and Israel’s citizens get the short end of the stick.”
Netanyahu commented on the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying: “What does that mean, to contain the dead? It means to accept the death of dear people, not to fight against the mortality rate, not to do everything to save lives, simply to forsake people to their death. The statistics do not lie: Four months ago Israel was ranked in fifth place in the Bloomberg [Covid Resilience] Ranking in its success in dealing with the coronavirus, and today, under your government, it ranks us in the 41st place out of 53 countries.
“Bennett, you promised a dramatic change in the coronavirus within five weeks. You were right on that matter, but it was a change for the worse, not for the better. Just less than four months ago, we handed over to you a country with almost no mortality, and since then 1,392 people have died. Most of the people who died could have been saved, and that is in a period in which there are vaccines. We ordered the vaccines, we paid for them, and they were already packed and ready for delivery to Israel. I urged Bennett and Horowitz, fly them to Israel, save people. Bennett’s entire speech was a straw man; we didn’t propose a lockdown, we proposed that you bring the vaccines. As soon as there were vaccines, the mortality stopped. I am raising the outcry of over 1,000 families whose members died in vain. Had you acted in time, you would have spared tens of thousands of Israelis the disease, and they will suffer from symptoms and side effects for many years, perhaps for the rest of their lives. And you are not ashamed to call this colossal failure a success?”
Netanyahu also spoke about the Iranian threat, saying: “This Government, you do not only contain the coronavirus, but also the Iranian nuclear program. Bennett and Lapid made a scandalous commitment not to take action against the return of the United States to the nuclear agreement. This agreement turns Iran, with an international seal of approval, into a threshold state that will be able to develop a nuclear arsenal of hundreds of atom bombs aimed at our head.
“That is the reason I fought against it in every forum and from every platform. I ordered countless preventive operations against the nuclear program, and of course, I never committed myself to coordinate in advance all the actions with the United States, despite repeated requests. But Bennett and Lapid, in the very first week of this unfortunate Government, already pledged not to fight against the agreement and not to carry out any military action without coordination in advance with the U.S. Have you gone mad? With this kind of policy, what legitimacy will Israel have to thwart [Iran’s] nuclear efforts?
“Bennett, a week ago you spoke at the U.N.; you said a few perfunctory, standard words about Iran, but you didn’t say the truly important thing. That Israel is adamantly opposed to the nuclear agreement and will continue to take action to thwart it. Instead, you attacked our healthcare system; the ‘Government of healing’ attacks the doctors. Instead of confronting Khamenei, you chose to confront Sharon Alroy [Preis]. When you contain the nuclear agreement you are giving in, you’re accepting it as an accomplished fact. From Tehran to Gaza, our enemies are realizing this weakness, and that is why they were so glad that there was a change of government.”
Commenting on the media coverage of the government, Netanyahu said: “They’re not hitting you hard, there is public relations being provided to you generously by the mobilized media. It is feeding the citizens of Israel a varied diet of spins, tall tales and fake news. The news editions have become petting zoos.
“Remember the word fiasco? Everything was a fiasco. Suddenly that word has disappeared from our lives. The fact-checking on live broadcast has also vanished. Bennett is happy, he’s pleased, satisfied, he saved a parrot. They don’t ask about Khan al-Ahmar, young settlements, opening a U.S. consulate for the Palestinians [in Yerushalayim], about the transfer of funds intended for soldiers for the Islamic Movement. Mansour Abbas gave Bennett permission to go to the U.N., but he didn’t give him permission to go to Umm al-Fahm.
“It’s not only caressing by the media, it’s acrobatics by the media. Before Bennett’s speech at the U.N., the commentators fed us learned explanations — an important speech, a historic speech. After the speech, when the mountain became a molehill, the excuses arrived — it’s not an important platform, the hall was empty because the leaders went home, and no one cares about the U.N. today.
“Clearly, there’s quiet because the media take care to keep things quiet. The media look after the government, and the government looks after the media.
“Within 100 days you managed to turn Israel from a rising world power into a submissive state, and you yet dare talk about the difficult legacy that you received from us. What are you talking about? My friends and I extricated Israel first in the world from the coronavirus, we extracted the gas from the water, we became a cyber-power, we jump-started the economy, we stopped the infiltrators, we brought four historic agreements. Yair Lapid, I hope it was nice in Bahrain and Morocco.
“As the government makes more fiascos, the representatives of the government make more hollow pithy statements, primarily Lapid. I am speaking Hebrew and not Norwegian, I hope that most people here can understand me. For Lapid, antisemitism is not a unique thing. But I want to quote his latest pearl. ‘This is a normal government of normal people who came from the right place.’ What condescension, what superficiality, where exactly is Lapid’s right place? Ramat Aviv? Ra’anana? Ramat Hasharon? And what is so normal about this government? A prime mnister with six seats, is that normal? And an acting prime minister who is controlled by the leader of the Islamic Movement with four seats, is that normal?
“We will continue to act as one person to bring down this patchwork government, and don’t be so smug. The people are not stupid, they know that you have no path and leadership; there is only one thing that unites you and everyone knows what that is or who that is. But it won’t do you any good, we will topple you and bring back the State of Israel from the lowest valley to the highest peak.”