Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid came to blows on the Knesset podium on Monday over Israel's response to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent financial crisis.
During a Knesset discussion titled "The Prime Minister's disgraceful failure to manage the economic and health crises" that was initiated by members of Lapid's Yesh Atid-Telem faction, Netanyahu blamed the opposition for trying to foil all his efforts to combat the pandemic while wasting precious time.
"This is the second time during the second wave [of the outbreak] alone that the opposition is making me come to a political discussion and bump heads at the expense of precious time we all need to fight coronavirus," said Netanyahu.
"I respect the democratic process and Knesset, but in times emergency, everyone, and that includes the opposition, to shoulder the burden… in most countries around the world, the opposition is helping the government, and unfortunately that is not the case in Israel."
"All you hear from the opposition and the media is two vocal choirs – one saying that everything is fine, and the other is all doom and gloom. They first said it was all okay, there is no pandemic, there is no coronavirus and even if it exists, it's not all that serious. At the same time, they yelled that all is lost. Everything is falling apart, and all hope is lost… continue your fine-bummer choir while my colleagues and I will continue working to save lives and promote quick testing that will help in the life alongside coronavirus."
Lapid then took the podium and blasted the Netanyahu for being out of touch with the everyday reality in Israel.
"The prime minister said on every possible stage that the situation is simply excellent," Lapid said. According to him, Israel is going through the coronavirus crisis exceptionally, and his treatment of it is even more exceptional. The citizen's health is excellent. Their economic situation is excellent."
"There's such a thing as reality. There's such a thing as data. There's such a thing as facts, statistics, doctors, scientists, Bank of Israel data, Finance Ministry data – there's a reality. In reality, every fifth business in Israel is closed. Every fourth young person is overdraft. Real life is very hard on real people. In reality, Israel is the only country in the world that has gone to a second full lockdown. You said on television, without blinking, that other countries went into full lockdown, no such countries were found. Not on Earth, anyway…. It's all politics to you.