Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has faced strong criticism for allegedly ignoring the Covid-19 issue and going ahead with an official visit to Morocco, the Times of Israel has reported. Moreover, Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman did not attend the coronavirus cabinet meetings until their absence was noted by the local media.
"Of course, we are trying to follow the coronavirus rules as much as possible," explained Lapid. "[However] it is impossible to manage a country's foreign policy, and it is impossible to be a foreign minister of a country, without travelling at all, and it is certainly impossible to open a diplomatic mission in an important country like Morocco without being present."
With Prime Minister Naftali Bennett asking Israelis not to travel abroad, Lapid said that he had cancelled a family holiday in Crete. He went to Morocco because it was a necessary part of his job, he insisted, not a vacation.
"Strategically, what we are creating here, and what we have been creating over the past few months is essentially a political axis," he told journalists during his stay in Rabat. "Think about it as a sort of circle consisting of Israel, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, and in some ways one can also add Cyprus, Greece, Bahrain and the UAE. All the nations that are moderate religiously with truly limitless economic potential."
The Times of Israel said that the Israeli coalition government is starting to feel pressure and some of Lapid's positions are coming under scrutiny. That is why, it suggested, he sought to divert attention towards his "grand vision for a moderate, peaceful and innovative Middle East."