The family of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has flown overseas for vacation despite his own repeated recommendations to the public not to travel during the pandemic – and the Israeli press is not letting this go over lightly.
Since news emerged yesterday that Bennett’s wife Gilat and the couples’ children took a flight overseas, accusations of a double standard were leveled at the PM.
Radio and television stations have been replaying Bennett’s contradictory statements since the story broke that his family is going on vacation.
On Friday, Bennett said: “If someone asked me, at the moment I wouldn’t recommend flying abroad right now amid a level of uncertainty like this. … Right now, we have to show particular responsibility – we as a government and you as citizens. To stand together, to take responsibility for each other, to be careful.”
And last year before he was prime minister, Bennett declared in the Knesset: “We don’t only have to run a state. We have to set a personal example.”
But on Wednesday, his office announced that the family would nonetheless be heading abroad, noting “the COVID cabinet decision to leave the skies open for the travel of Israelis.”
The border was slammed shut to foreigners on Sunday and will remain closed until at least Dec. 7 in an effort to get ahead of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 which was discovered in three fully vaccinated Israelis who returned from Africa.
The Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement that Bennett’s family will be “observing all guidelines and rules” related to the pandemic, which includes a longer quarantine for individuals who are not vaccinated.
And Bennett defended his family’s decision on Facebook.
“I understand the criticism, but since Friday we’ve learned a lot more about the variant and in which countries it’s spreading, and the Cabinet made decisions about which countries it’s permitted to travel to and under which conditions,” the prime minister wrote.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the family initially planned to travel to Mauritius, but switched destinations after the country was deemed “red” as are most nations in Africa.
But members of the opposition pounced on the poor optics.
“That’s how it is when the political lies become the norm and personal example is publicly trampled. Simply impertinent,” Knesset Member Israel Katz said on Twitter.
He said his family chose a new destination after learning of the new travel restrictions.
“They are all going in accordance with the restrictions and, of course, will be in quarantine as is required,” he said.
Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.