Ultra-Orthodox Threats Delay Israeli Lockdown Decision
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu postponed a crucial cabinet meeting on Sunday after the mayors of four primarily ultra-Orthodox towns warned of a backlash over threatened coronavirus lockdowns. Infection rates in these towns – as in many ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods elsewhere – generally surpass the national norm. Analysts cite lifestyles based on group prayer, ritual and study, adding that the ultra-Orthodox tend to look to their rabbis for guidance – and these clerics are often highly suspicious of the state. The mayors say that if their towns are ordered to shut down, they will not comply, claiming that their populations are being portrayed as “enemies of the people.” They sent Netanyahu a letter on Sunday warning that this would be remembered come election time. The prime minister’s decision to postpone the cabinet session came after he met with the leaders of the two ultra-Orthodox parties whose lawmakers provide his coalition with a significant amount of support.