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Israeli President Mounts the Bully Pulpit to Blast Gov’t Mishandling of Pandemic

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday veered from his office’s largely ceremonial role to level a biting rebuke of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. President Rivlin accused the Netanyahu unity coalition of having failed to create a “clear and coherent doctrine” in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Early-on in the crisis, Israel was seen as a world leader in its handling of the outbreaks, imposing what were called draconian measures that included mandatory quarantines and area lockdowns. But in the opinion of many, the nation became cocky and cut corners as it strove to return to a sense of normalcy. In recent weeks, the disease has had a resurgence with record rates of infection coming day after day. Rivlin blamed the lack of a centralized authority to deal with information and to establish a discourse with the population. He singled out sparring between the Defense and Health ministries for control as an example of behavior by officialdom that is preventing a successful fight against the virus. Although Rivlin became president following decades as a lawmaker on the political Right, as president he has earned the respect of the nation and is considered by many to be one of the most esteemed political figures.