Bennett is quaranting because his daughter caught the virus

‘You’ve lost the plot’: PM raps opposition for forcing him to Knesset from isolation

Bennett says Likud ‘petty politics’ is going to cause a ‘mass breakout’ of COVID in parliament; Netanyahu tells him to ‘quit whining’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen in the isolation area of the Knesset chamber during a plenum session on December 27, 2021. (Knesset spokesperson)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen in the isolation area of the Knesset chamber during a plenum session on December 27, 2021. (Knesset spokesperson)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu traded fire in the Knesset on Monday, after the opposition forced Bennett to attend the plenum, even though he is in quarantine after his daughter caught COVID-19.

“Public health should be above political games. You’ve lost the plot,” Bennett said from an isolated section of the Knesset plenum. “You are going to cause a mass breakout in the Knesset. This is a lack of responsibility. The public is watching you in shame.”

“We’re in a pandemic with the fastest-spreading variant in human history — they don’t care,” Bennett said of the opposition. “Everything is petty politics.”

“They’re busy with everything except for the well-being and health of Israeli citizens,” Bennett said. “Tomorrow, in two days or 10 days from now, when Likud members are in quarantine, we will continue to be the responsible adults and you will continue with your childish games.”

Hitting back, Netanyahu told Bennett to “quit whining,” since the rules require him to appear at the Knesset.

“You’re afraid of criticism and wasting precious time. We don’t care about life? Shame on you,” he said. “Bennett gives a lot of commentary, but does not make decisions or take action.”

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu during a plenum session at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on December 27, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Netanyahu accused Bennett of essentially putting the country in lockdown by requiring those exposed to Omicron to go into quarantine, and charged that Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton is a pandemic denier, sabotaging vaccination of kids in schools.

Netanyahu also alleged that the new government was soft on terror, after several recent attacks, and accused it of “capitulating to Iran instead of fighting Iran.”

Several lawmakers from Netanyahu’s Likud party were thrown out of the Knesset plenum for shouting down Bennett’s speech.

Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina party, took over as prime minister from Netanyahu when an amalgam of leftist, centrist, right-wing and Arab lawmakers managed to form a majority coalition earlier this year.

Netanyahu and his right-wing allies have accused Bennett of being an illegitimate prime minister ever since, saying he “stole” votes from right-wing voters, and should not lead because his party only holds six seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Bennett is in quarantine because his daughter tested positive for COVID-19, and there is a “high suspicion” that she contracted the Omicron variant. A statement issued by Bennett’s spokesman said genetic sequencing to determine if the strain is Omicron will be completed in the coming days.

Bennett was forced by the opposition to leave quarantine and head to the Knesset to attend a special discussion — from an isolated section — that requires the prime minister to take part. Likud demanded that he appear before the parliament to be grilled by lawmakers in a prescheduled debate.

Likud MK Yariv Levin sent an official letter to Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy threatening to block all other parliamentary debates, unless Bennett appeared before the plenum in a special isolation chamber.

The letter called for the premier to show up for the session — an event that can be called once a month if 40 MKs sign a petition to that effect. The prime minister and opposition chief must attend the entirety of the hour-long discussion. Monday’s debate was formally called to discuss the potential reopening of the US consulate in Jerusalem that serves the Palestinians.

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