Netanyahu Pulls a Fast One on His Own Health Advisers
True to form, the Israeli government performed a last-second 180 Sunday night, scrubbing its planned lockdown in specific towns hit hardest by coronavirus, and instead implementing a watered-down set of restrictions on a larger number of locations. On Thursday, the government passed a resolution authorizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to impose a total shutdown of approximately 20 neighborhoods and villages, mostly in the Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities where the virus has spread virtually unopposed. Yet Sunday night, hours before the measures were scheduled to kick in, Netanyahu called an emergency meeting with his corona czar and informed him he was implementing merely a nightly curfew, in nearly 40 cities and towns. The sudden about-face comes after an unprecedented barrage of attacks and political threats lobbed at the prime minister by his loyal coalition partners, the ultra-Orthodox members of parliament, who contend that a total lockdown on exclusively ultra-Orthodox towns is a discriminatory and even anti-Semitic act, and not a health issue. Fearing his decree would be the end of a crucial political alliance, the prime minister announced the change in plans, much to the despair of health and economic experts.