A senior official in the municipality of predominately ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak on Sunday evening said relations between the Haredi community and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be beyond repair.
Moshe Morgenstern's statement came following the government's plans to impose lockdowns on communities with high rates of coronavirus contagion, many of which have ultra-Orthodox majority. In the wake of Haredi pressure, the cabinet decided to impose only nighttime curfews.
"This is a day that will be written in the history books," Morgenstern, chairman of the health committee in the Bnei Brak municipality, told Ynet. "I would not be surprised if today is remembered as the day when Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox public divorced each other."
The Haredi public has almost unanimously supported the prime minister for decades and their parliamentary representatives have been consistent partners in Netanyahu's coalitions.
"The population is angry and baffled," Morgenstern said. "Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited our city and we see him as a valid option to give our support to. With all due respect Netanyahu, he is not irreplaceable."
Yamina leader MK Naftali Bennet was also named as a potential alternative to the prime minister.
"We will not be underestimated, and the prime minister should not count on our support," Morgenstern added, warning that a lockdown would have dealt a fatal blow to the local economy in a city already plagued by poverty.
He said any other decision other than a curfew would have seen mass demonstrations. "We are satisfied. A lockdown that would have included schools closing down, would have brought thousands to the streets," Morgenstern said.
Ministers opted to impose nightly curfews from 7pm to 5am on 40 "red" municipalities. According to the decision, schools in those locations would remain closed but some Haredi communities have already warned the order would not be enforced after rabbinical authorities instructed institutions to continue in-class studies.