Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton claimed on Wednesday that the Health Ministry was running a smear campaign against her as both parties were at loggerheads over an outline for the opening of the upcoming school year under coronavirus.
"The unprecedented campaign, briefings and smears that have been going on against me in recent days will not deter me," she said in a statement.
Shasha-Biton is promoting an outline that will cut the quarantine period for students and teaching staff who have been exposed to a confirmed patient down to 48 hours — a move which the Health Ministry opposes. She has also stated that she opposed vaccinating young people aged 12 and over in schools, as is currently the case with other vaccines.
The proposal sparked a fiery debate between Shasha-Biton and the Health Ministry's Director of Public Health Dr. Sharon Elroy-Preis who supports much harsher restrictions. The education minister even called on Alroy-Preis' to resign which prompted Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to go out in the health official's defense.
"The public should be concerned that anyone who presents a different approach to the coronavirus response is immediately labeled a pandemic denier. Fortunately, many experts and ministers share my view that we should live alongside coronavirus. We have reached an absurd situation. All health problems in the State of Israel have disappeared and people only focus on vaccinating children during school hours in September."
The education minister called on the Health Ministry to focus on "campaigns of advocacy and encouragement of vaccines... instead of running a campaign of defamation and smears" in the 35 days left until the opening of the school year on September 1.
"I will continue to work for the good of the education system, teaching staff, students and their mental, social and physical health as I have done so far. It is easy to sow hysteria. It is more important to work for the good of the public," she concluded her remarks.