Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday responded to an outcry over his wife taking their children on vacation overseas just days after he recommended Israelis not travel abroad and shuttered the country to tourists to prevent an outbreak of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
“I am open to criticism, and in this case I also accept it,” he wrote, addressing the issue at the end of a lengthy Facebook post ahead of the Sabbath.
“Not every criticism is a personal attack, and not every decision of ours is perfect,” the premier added.
He then went on to defend his wife, Gilat, calling her “the most charming and kind-hearted person I know” and explaining that she was only seeking to provide her children with some respite after a tumultuous year “during which their lives were completely turned upside down.”
Bennett insisted that his family had been transparent about their plans from the beginning and that his wife and children would quarantine upon return, as is required of all Israelis.
‘I wish all the vacationers a safe and healthy return,” he wrote.
According to Channel 12 news, Bennett had expected his wife to cancel the vacation after he held a press conference last Friday during which he recommended against flying abroad.
“My wife’s going to kill me,” the network quoted him as having told aides after he made the announcement.
Some officials in Bennett’s office reportedly attempted to convince the premier’s wife against going abroad on a family vacation this week, cognizant of the poor optics as Israel’s government slapped restrictions on foreign travel in response to a feared outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus strain.
Bennett has come under heavy criticism from across the political spectrum since news broke Wednesday about his wife and children’s trip.
The prime minister attempted to defend the decision earlier this week by noting that the situation has changed since then and that the family switched its plans to go to a country the government did not forbid travel to.
According to Channel 12, there was at least one person in the Prime Minister’s Office who tried to get Gilat Bennett to cancel the trip, to an undisclosed location, but she refused.
Bennett himself was unhappy about the trip, the report claimed, quoting him saying that “it doesn’t look good,” and “harms the public’s trust,” but to no avail.