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COVID-19: Bennett handling of pandemic will define his legacy – analysis

CM 17/08/2021


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Besides killing nearly 4.5 million people and its devastating economic and social consequences, the novel coronavirus has also had a significant political impact in countries around the world.
COVID-19 has harmed incumbent leaders, no matter how well they have handled the virus. When the graph of corona numbers rises, the popularity of the political leader falls.
Israel is not the only country where a new leader took over who promised to handle COVID-19 better, though it may be the only state whose leader wrote a book about it.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett knows that his premiership will be defined not by how he has faced Iran or the Palestinians or even progressives in Washington but how he handled the pandemic. That is why he is devoting the overwhelming majority of his time to the issue.
He would be the first to admit that his strategy of avoiding lockdowns and a crisis in the healthcare system is a big risk. It would be much easier for him to keep all Israelis at home, which would bring corona numbers down immediately.
His predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu’s three lockdowns cost Israel some NIS 200 billion. Nevertheless, a quarter of Israelis still voted for his Likud in the immediate aftermath of a lockdown whose timing was intended to help him politically. Bennett’s advisers are positive that if Netanyahu was prime minister, a fourth lockdown would be underway now.
The million Israelis over 50 who have been vaccinated dispels the myth that no one would listen to Bennett because the six seats he controls in the Knesset made him an illegitimate leader. Bennett tweeted on Tuesday that he saw the high numbers of those who got vaccinated as an expression of trust in him and his government. Israel is the first country in the world offering a third dose of a Western vaccine on a wide scale.
PM NAFTALI BENNETT accompanied his mother Mirna to get a third COVID-19 booster shot, August 3, 2021 (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)PM NAFTALI BENNETT accompanied his mother Mirna to get a third COVID-19 booster shot, August 3, 2021 (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Meanwhile, Bennett’s decision to double bed capacity at corona wards in hospitals and prevent a healthcare system collapse from too many serious cases is different from Netanyahu, who made decisions based on raw corona numbers and percentages of Israelis getting the virus.
The start of the school year will also be handled differently by Bennett, who challenged Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton for the first time on Monday night. While he threatened to force pupils to learn by Zoom if too many of them in red cities remain unvaccinated, he will be far more conservative in stopping school than Netanyahu was. He is more afraid of children being babysat by their grandparents and infecting them than them staying in school.
If all those decisions prevent a lockdown, he will make necessary headway politically. The credit will then be all his, because the public is aware that Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman have done all they can to stay away from dealing with corona, like the plague that it is.
Not succeeding in fighting COVID-19 is dangerous not only for Israelis in general but for its politically disadvantaged prime minister in particular. Leaders require political support, even when elections aren’t around the corner. When Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s political support nosedived, Netanyahu was able to finish him off politically.
Even from his two-week vacation in the US that will culminate in Hawaii, Netanyahu has been belittling Bennett’s handling of the virus on social media. A rapid rise in cases in Israel could be the last chance for Netanyahu to stop Bennett from passing the state budget and ensuring two years in power.
But since 90% of the Israelis currently dying from the virus are over 60 and have not received a third vaccine, the more Bennett succeeds in getting the elderly jabbed, the more likely he will avoid being harmed by what he purposely calls “the delta” and not “corona” in order to emphasize that he is handling a different predicament from his predecessor.
Ironically, it is Netanyahu’s legacy of making Israel the “vaccination nation” that could give a much-needed political booster not to himself but to the man who succeeded him.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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