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Lapid vows he’ll now attend coronavirus cabinet meetings ‘as often as possible’

FM’s office says he’s ‘attentive to the criticism’ after it was revealed he and Liberman weren’t participating in sessions of the high-level forum

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Friday he will work to attend meetings of the coronavirus cabinet “as often as possible,” after it was revealed he hasn’t attended a single session of the high-level ministerial forum tasked with steering the government’s pandemic policy.

“Lapid is attentive to the criticism,” his office said in a statement.

The statement said Lapid’s attendance would be “subject to his role as foreign minister and the efforts to pass the budget.”

The reversal came days after Lapid said his presence is not necessary at the meetings and that his representatives attend meetings and keep him updated.

Just 12 out of the 27 cabinet ministers, including Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, are members of the coronavirus cabinet, among them Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton.

On Thursday, it was revealed that Liberman has also not been attending the meetings, prompting criticism of him and Lapid by opposition lawmakers.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, left, and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, right, attend a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, August 1, 2021. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

Confirming the Kan public broadcaster’s report on his absence, Liberman said he was busy working on the long-delayed budget and that ministry representatives were attending in his place.

A statement on behalf of Liberman said the minister had appointed Hamad Amar, his party’s minister within the Finance Ministry, “to be the representative in the coronavirus cabinet while the budget and Arrangements Law are being prepared for their approval by the government.”

The coronavirus cabinet has recently ordered the return of some restrictions on public life amid a recent wave of COVID-19 cases that has pushed the daily caseload over 3,000.

With numbers still rising, officials have threatened further measures, including the possibility of a lockdown during the coming Jewish holiday season in September.

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