'Litzman's statement is inappropriate and wrong'

Coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar responds to outgoing Health Minister's assertion that Netanyahu overreacted on coronavirus.

103FM ,

Miki Zohar
Miki Zohar
Esti Desiubov/TPS

Coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar (Likud) was interviewed on Radio 103FM on Monday and discussed the challenges facing the new government, the criticism of the size of the government, and outgoing Health Minister Yaakov Litzman's remarks about the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a very complex coalition, it has its advantages and has its disadvantages. The fact that there is a relatively very, very high majority allows you a little more flexibility on everything related to voting, but the fact that it's an equal government and a unity government makes it much more difficult to negotiate on what comes to a vote and what doesn't, what we vote in favor of and what we vote against," MK Zohar explained.

Commenting on the criticism of a large government being formed during an economic crisis, he explained, "It really is large, unprecedented, I hear the criticism, I am aware of the criticism, and I think it is a criticism that is justified. But the alternative was one of a fourth election campaign that would have been devastating and truly harmful to the State of Israel."

"There will be quite a few coalition crises in the future that we will have to try to deal with and solve, but this will end up being far less radical than people tend to think. I think that Blue and White, after they got rid of the Netanyahu haters, Yair Lapid and Bogie Ya'alon, they have people who are far more positive, statesmanlike, who work for the benefit of Israeli citizens,” said Zohar.

He also responded to allegations that the Prime Minister used the global coronavirus crisis for his personal political needs, and noted that “he has 64 seats in his polls all the time, was his interest to prevent a fourth election campaign even though he had 64 seats?"

Zohar said that the reason for the establishment of the unity government instead of going to a fourth election is "out of responsibility for Israeli citizens, with the understanding that there is an unprecedented health and economic crisis here, it may be that today the economic crisis is greater than the health crisis, the consideration was unequivocally the good of Israeli citizens."

On the relationship with his new coalition partners, MK Zohar said that "there is a good chemistry that I really see as a potential for cooperation for the benefit of Israeli citizens. Obviously, there is a wide gap between us in many ideological issues, each from his point of view, but on a day-to-day basis, working with them for Israel's citizens on things that are important to Israeli citizens, certainly in the health, economic, and social security aspects, I think we can find a common denominator."

Zohar expressed his opinion on the rotation agreement between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and said, "I think this government will ultimately last at least three years. I don't know what will happen next because this is the agreement at the moment. There will be exchanges and the Prime Minister will give up his post as we promised in the agreement, that's my feeling. Time will tell."

He later commented on the remarks of former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman who suggested in an interview on Sunday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu panicked during the coronavirus pandemic and had "responded to the fears of the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Moshe Bar Siman Tov."

"Litzman's statement is improper and wrong, to say that the Prime Minister acted due to fear from Bar Siman Tov…come on. That is not true. The Prime Minister acted in the most correct and smart way. The ‘over-panic’ is what saves the State of Israel from the coronavirus today. That was the line the Prime Minister adopted and I think it is good that the Prime Minister did that."

MK Zohar said that "what we saw here was really, to me, a perfect representation of perfect decision making in almost 90% of the decisions that were made. I think that, today, the State of Israel is close to the point where it will have no patients, in my opinion there will be less than a thousand cases in two weeks, creating a situation in which we can finally start working on the economic solution in the light of the crisis and return to full routine. All of this is a result only of the steps taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu."