Will world leading vaccination drive be enough to extend King Bibi's reign?
Israel's longest-serving leader hs been highlighting his role in turning high-tech Israel into a "vaccination nation" but lst polls show no clear victory
Reuters | 11:08 22.03.2021
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory over Covid-19 by making Israel a "vaccination nation". Even that may not be enough when voters wearing mandatory masks cast their ballots in an election on Tuesday. Netanyahu, who turned Israel's world-leading rollout of vaccines into a showcase of his campaign in the country's fourth national poll in two years, gave a measured assessment of his chances after the latest opinion polls pointed to a close race.
Netanyahu has made the vaccination campaign a major part of his re-election campaign. Photo: Abigail Uzi. Photo:"We are the world champions in handling the coronavirus ... I have brought millions of vaccine doses and will bring millions more," Netanyahu said on the stump, pacing the stage in multiple campaign rallies each day and in a slew of media interviews as election day neared. Political opponents say he mishandled the pandemic from the start, pointing to the need for three national lockdowns and accusing him of turning a blind eye to violators within the ultra-Orthodox community that provides a power base for his key coalition partners. 'OBSESSION' For Netanyahu, public praise from Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, Israel's main vaccine supplier, was campaign gold. The prime minister, Bourla told Israel's Channel 12 TV, phoned him 30 times to secure a supply deal - even at 3 a.m. "Just like I was obsessive about the vaccines, I'll be obsessive about our economy," Netanyahu said on Army Radio, promising more cash stipends for all Israelis and ailing businesses. But after three inconclusive elections, voters have had plenty of time to make up their minds about Netanyahu, in a ballot being held almost a quarter of a century to the day after he won his first term as prime minister. Despite corruption charges he denies, weekly street protests over his alleged graft, a trial scheduled to gain speed after the ballot and elections in April and September 2019 and last March, Netanyahu has managed to stay at Israel's helm.