TEL AVIV – In an unlikely show of camaraderie, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and main rival Blue and White head Benny Gantz shared an affectionate moment on social media over a coronavirus post, prompting reluctant umpire President Reuven Rivlin to urge the two party heads to continue the solidarity offline as well.
Gantz on Tuesday shared a post written by Netanyahu regarding new restrictions for staying at home. “When it comes to people’s lives, there’s no politics. Israel comes before everything. Protect yourselves and your families and fully obey instructions,” Gantz wrote.
Netanyahu then shared Gantz’s own share, with the accompanying text, “Very important. Thanks, Benny.”
Rivlin then shared the share chain and added, “Maybe we can continue with this at the cabinet table, friends?”
Rivlin called on Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein to open the Knesset plenum and allow for MKs to debate setting up committees.
Edelstein closed the plenary over fighting regarding the committees only two days after the 23rd Knesset was sworn in.
“A frozen Knesset harms Israel’s ability to act in a good and responsible way during an emergency,” Rivlin told Edelstein.
“We cannot let this crisis, as bad as it is, harm the infrastructure of our democratic system. We need to do everything to deal with this crisis, but carefully, in order not to strike a fatal blow to our democratic infrastructure,” he added.
Gantz said he would petition the High Court of Justice over Edelstein’s decision.
“We have been working hard all day through different communication channels — including me meeting personally with MK Edelstein, who is refusing to let us congregate in the halls of democracy and work for the citizens and — above all else — tackle the challenge of corona,” Gantz said.
“At this point — we have no choice but to turn to the Supreme Court,” he added.
Edelstein blamed the Blue and White party for not agreeing to any of the terms for the committees and said the plenum would reopen Monday after negotiations.
He said he would allow the plenum to vote Monday on establishing an Arrangements Committee to begin parliamentary work.
Blue and White’s leaders were behaving “ridiculously,” Edelstein said.
A day earlier, Blue and White number 2, Yair Lapid, said the new coronavirus restrictions proved that Israel was “no longer a democracy.”
Lapid blasted the government’s use of digital tracking tools from cellphone data which Netanyahu said would be used to monitor the spread of the virus.
“It’s possible that it doesn’t really interest you with all this coronavirus in the air, but as of today, you no longer live in a democracy,” Lapid said in a video posted to social media.
Lapid came under fire for his remarks, prompting him to post on Twitter Wednesday that “the instruction [not] to leave home is not the problem; the fact that it is given by an illegitimate government is definitely a problem.”