Netanyahu: ‘I’m sorry that we haven’t succeeded’ in preventing COVID deaths

Prime Minister Netanyahu says he’s sorry the government was unable to prevent more COVID-19 deaths, but refrains from answering whether his policies for dealing with the pandemic led to avoidable fatalities.

“Every death…. is terrible. We’re in a joint struggle… I’m sorry that we haven’t succeeded [in preventing the deaths], and together we’ll succeed… We’re the only ones who will succeed because I’ve brought vaccinations,” Netanyahu tells Channel 13 news.

Asked why Cyprus had a lower death toll proportionately, Netanyahu notes the country is an island.

“We’re not an island. We have the Palestinians in our midst. We can’t close Jenin… Thirty prime ministers have called me to say we congratulate you for the way you have handled this,” he says.

The premier repeats his claim that Israel will be the first country to emerge from the pandemic and denies Australia and New Zealand are already in the clear.

“No country is out,” he says.

“Every death is a tragedy. But for a while now, there’s no reason for anybody to die, or at least 97, 95 percent,” he says — a reference to the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Local media is always asserting blunders here, he says; international media recognizes Israel’s successes… “Tens of thousands of businesses are indeed fighting for their lives… When I try to help them [financially], I’m told by politicians and legal advisers that I can’t do that” because of the election campaign.

He rails at the Israeli media and at legal officials for opposing his spending plans amid the campaign for the March 23 elections.

He says he intends to turn Israel into “the fastest growing economy in the world.”

Asked about the network’s poll showing Likud slipping and him unable to form a majority, Netanyahu says: “There are nine Likud mandates sitting at home.” (A “mandate” is a term used in Israel for a Knesset seat.)

Netanyahu is also asked about a remark he made yesterday about building a “right-wing government without virus contagion,” and whether this meant he thinks everyone except the right is infected.

“I was talking about political contagion — rotation, alternate prime ministers and so on,” he says.