PM Naftali Bennett:
'I stand by my decision - Israel is getting back to normal'

Ahead of Yom Kippur, PM Bennett calls on the unvaccinated to get the jab, and touts his foreign policy and budgetary accomplishments.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ,

נפתלי בנט
נפתלי בנט
צילום: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The time right before Yom Kippur is the most significant time of the year.

Our tradition teaches us not only to believe in the justness of our path, but also to stop for soul-searching, for self-examination, for introspection.

This past year has been very meaningful for the State of Israel, and also for myself personally.

I know that many people disagree with the decision I made to form this government, and I pay attention to everyone, even when the criticism is harsh.

I stand by the decision I made.

The State of Israel was on the verge of a fifth election - without a budget, with the [government] paralyzed and falling apart, and the ‘Delta’ variant already in sight. Disunity, the poisoning [of dialogue] and ostracisms destroyed us from within. Our friends in the world looked at us with shock, and our enemies - with satisfaction.

But now, three months later, we’ve moved on. The State of Israel, day by day, is coming out of this getting back to normal.

**

Last week, the state budget passed its first reading in the Knesset. This is a good and fair budget, that get the country functioning again, after we lost almost 200 billion shekels to quarantines over the past year.

The new budget removes barriers to greater competition in imports as well. There's no reason why a trip to the supermarket or pharmacy should be traumatic. Food prices in Israel, especially fruits and vegetables, are too high. We’ve now started fixing the issue.

**

In the fight against the coronavirus, we chose the difficult path.

It turns out that the virus was not impressed by the farewell party it received here in Israel, and it came back, in the form of the Delta variant. There may be more strains, lethal and even more resistant. The pandemic is still with us.

Thus, the State of Israel must remain open and functional, despite the coronavirus.

We paid a heavy price for the lockdowns. Last year, they cost every Israeli family 100 thousand shekels. Citizens of Israel need to be able to live, to work, and to learn.

My job is to give you all the tools to protect yourselves - and that's what I did and what I do every day.

Despite the skeptics, we decided – as the first country in the world - to vaccinate with a third dose, the booster shot. We ensured the continued supply of the vaccines, and to my great joy and satisfaction, three million Israelis have placed their trust in science, medicine, common sense - and went to get vaccinated.

I call – and will never tire of calling over and over again – on those who have not gotten the vaccine to choose life! For the sake of your health and for the sake of the future of everyone.

The school year opened this year as usual, and two million students were able to get back to life as usual, without learning via screens. I know there are still many challenges and people in quarantine, but we are attentive, working quickly and adapting ourselves to the changing needs and situations.

**

This week I was in Egypt, for a very good first meeting with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who welcomed us very warmly.

I was happy to sit with the president, with the Israeli and Egyptian flags behind us, and after 42 years of a cold peace, to be able to talk seriously about improving and expanding relations between our two countries, especially in the area of trade. The potential is enormous - and we are ready to work, in a convivial spirit of cooperation.

The meeting with President El-Sisi follows a good and friendly meeting with King Abdullah and of course my meeting with President Joe Biden, who rebooted relations between us and the United States, our closest and most important ally.

I want to take this opportunity to thank President Biden for his beautiful tribute to the Israeli public, as he ordered, himself, to implement a visa exemption for Israelis traveling to the US, for the restocking of the Iron Dome system, and other for other security assistance.

**

This is just a sample of what we accomplished, working together, despite the many differences of opinion within the government. I want to thank the ministers for their dedication, openness, tolerance for other opinions, and for the good work they have done on behalf of Israel.

We’ve just gotten started.



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