Yuli Edelstein
Yuli EdelsteinFlash 90

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein estimates that the COVID-19 vaccine campaign will begin as early as next week, but in his opinion, the vaccine probably won't prevent a third closure.

"There is a very good chance that we will start vaccinations as early as next week. Both the professionals in the Ministry and the health funds have been very impressively prepared. We are waiting for the final approvals that need to be received," Edelstein said in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

He said, "We are well-prepared. We will not start the vaccination operation until the Ministry of Health officials confirm that all the vaccinations have been approved and that it has gone through all the necessary processes. When we turn to citizens we must be sure it is safe for them."

Edelstein does not hide the fact that he, together with the prime minister, will be among the first to be vaccinated, very likely televised live before the nation. "I usually set a personal example and don't demand from other people something I do not do. This has been the case throughout the period with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and so it will be with the vaccine."

However, he also understands that the vaccine will not be able to stop the third closure. "Unfortunately, if we do not see a radical change in public behavior - vaccines at best - it will be avoided next time. It should be understood that the vaccination process will not take place in one day. We are talking to HMOs about 60,000 people a day, but in simple terms it is a process of weeks. Besides, you have to take two shots and the gap between them should be three weeks, so it takes a few months until a sufficient number of the population in Israel receives the vaccine and it starts working and until then you have to strictly observe the rules. When I am asked about another closure I say a mask that sits correctly on the face is better than any closure."

The Minister of Health himself has been talking in recent days about the problems in the decision-making process in the Corona crisis. In his opinion, "the crisis is not badly managed, but the coalition and the government are very complex. I have seen all sorts of things in coalitions and governments, and this time it is more complex than ever. Passing a decision in the government is a process that sometimes takes too long.

"One of the principles I set when I entered the Ministry of Health is that with Corona we must act quickly. In the Cabinet and the government, things are taking time now and when it comes to the Knesset there are endless processes. The spirit that prevails in many Knesset committees is not a spirit of fighting an epidemic but more populist. It does not help in decision making," he adds.

Asked if his remarks did not imply that the best thing to change the situation was to go to the polls, the minister replied, "We do not know what the election results will be. I suggest looking overseas at the US and looking at what is happening there in terms of morbidity. The election campaign and rallies caused an increase in morbidity. I would state that at this time a bad coalition is perhaps better than an election."

Edelstein also outlines the way to preserve the partnership with Blue and White. "A basic condition is responsibility. I have seen the Blue and White people raise their hands in favor of dissolving the Knesset. When the responsibility is shared, solutions can be found. I have seen much more complex and difficult crises than the current coalition crisis. It can be resolved with a little good will and save us, at least in the coming months, an election campaign."

Gideon Sa'ar's retirement from the party probably perturbs him less than others. "I do not think the retirement will hurt us. We have already seen retirements from the Likud, including people of inferior status to Gideon, who ultimately had no influence. We still do not know when the election will be and who will be the key players. I would not have put all my money on this matter.

"It's not a particularly pleasant sight because I like Gideon and we were always quite friendly. I remember that after he lost in the primaries he was interviewed quite a bit and talked about that he has great support for the Likud and that this is the house he will not leave. Therefore, it is a bit difficult to see this change in behavior," Edelstein concludes.