Likud, Blue and White spar over protests as infection soars – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on September 23, 2020

The coronavirus cabinet has been meeting since 2 p.m. Wednesday to discuss how to tighten restrictions on the public as the number of coronavirus cases in the country soar.

According to the ministry, some 31 coronavirus patients have died in the last 24 hours.

During the meeting, Likud and Blue and White ministers clashed, mainly about demonstrations. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi lashed out about the idea that some members of the government are pushing for a full national lockdown, which goes contrary to the recommendations of health professionals.

This is the second coronavirus cabinet meeting this week. Tuesdays meeting disbanded after nearly nine hours over disagreements over how prayers and demonstrations would be handled, as well.

At one point during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the room to attention and said, You will respect the discussion." At another, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz convened an emergency meeting of his faction ministers. He told them, Stop the disproportionate discussion of the demonstrations immediately."

"Insist on what is good for the citizens health and what will stop the spread of infection, while balancing Judaism, democracy, economy and society," he stressed.

Ashkenazi accused Likud ministers of recommending a closure to stop demonstrations against the government and Netanyahu.

"I hear the health professionals say there is no reason for a general closure, he said. I want to understand why a full closure is recommended here if so. A full closure is a last resort and not a solution to demonstrations."

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn also blamed Likud ministers: "We agreed to a closure, but now you suddenly want a decision that will only ban demonstrations on Balfour Street, in front of the prime ministers residence.

For his part, Netanyahu explained why demonstrations must be stopped.

"If we can leave home to demonstrate, then people will also be able to go to the beach and call it protesting, he said. "Who said you have to go far to demonstrate? Let them demonstrate under the house."

He said that he supports demonstrations, but every week Israeli citizens see that they are required to celebrate the holiday alone, to comply with health guidelines, and on the other hand protestors are coming out in masses.

"The pandemic is spreading all over the world, people are losing their jobs at best and the lives of their relatives at worst, and all they care about is continuing the demonstrations against Netanyahu at all costs," Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen tweeted against Blue and White ministers. "Does their hatred of Netanyahu outweigh their desire to preserve the lives of Israeli citizens?"

At a certain point in the meeting, there was also a confrontation between Economy Minister Amir Peretz and Netanyahu.

The prime minister said he wanted to impose a full closure immediately. Peretz said, Public confidence has been broken because every two days we make a different proposal. The decisions do not last more than two days. I propose to accept the outline prepared by the attorney-general, coronavirus commissioner and the director-general of the Health Ministry.

Likud MK Haim Katz, who chairs the powerful Likud central committee, said the government and Knesset should be dispersed.

"Nothing is working," he lamented.

Interior Minister Arye Deri walked out of the meeting earlier in the day when some ministers discussed possibly shutting synagogues as early as Thursday.

Deri had said that prayer could take place in open spaces and that synagogue prayer could close entirely on other days - just not Yom Kippur.

When the Health Ministry prevents gatherings in closed spaces, we will all pray in the public space, he said. During the closure, anyone who wants to demonstrate will do so near his home.

Recall, on Tuesday after the cabinet meeting, Deri said, We are in a life-saving situation. I am willing to go to the rabbis and persuade them to pray more in the public space. But he said he cannot convince the rabbis to give up the tradition of hakafot if demonstrations continue as usual.

I am accountable to the public, he continued, I will do my best for God. We are a Jewish and democratic government, and for me Judaism is first and most important. If the government decides no to praying on Yom Kippur and yes to demonstrations, I do not know that I can stay in such a non-Jewish government.

Earlier, it appeared that the parties may have come to better terms ahead of the meeting. Gantz had posted on social media that In a democracy, the right to demonstrate and protest is sacred. The demand of those who want to pray, as the Jewish people have practiced for thousands of years, is also sacred and just. The demand of those who want to earn a decent living, return to work and take care of their child is real and just. But no less important is the right to health and security.

In addition to limiting demonstrations and prayers to 20 people in outdoor spaces, the ministers are also considering the following restrictions: closing all non-essential businesses and marketplaces; reducing public transportation substantially; stopping all outgoing flights from Ben-Gurion Airport; allowing only nuclear families to gather; and asking elderly and high-risk individuals to stay home.

The ministers are also looking to increase the abilities of the hospitals to take more patients, step up enforcement and improve the process for cutting off infection chains.

Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu spoke Wednesday morning to Radio Jerusalem and said that from his perspective, restrictions at this point should be about everything, including demonstrations There is no gathering that is not contagious... When you take off your mask and shout at demonstrations, or if in the heat of the demonstration it falls down, then it is clear what happens.

He added that the country will not open fast like last time not the education system, restaurants or leisure activities.

"Everything will be graded and slow," he said. It depends on two parameters: a low coefficient of infection and a decrease in the level of morbidity that will reduce the number of serious patients.

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Likud, Blue and White spar over protests as infection soars - The Jerusalem Post

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