Israel extended a national lockdown on Sunday as coronavirus variants offset its vaccination drive and officials predicted a delay in a turnaround from the health and economic crisis. Highlighting Israel’s challenges in enforcing restrictions, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews attended the Jerusalem funerals of two prominent rabbis on Sunday, drawing criticism from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners. Netanyahu has promoted a speedy vaccination of Israel’s most vulnerable cohorts – around 24% of 9 million citizens – and the lockdown as dual pathways to a possible reopening of the economy in February. But a projected mid-January turnaround in curbing the pandemic did not transpire. Serious cases have surged among Israelis who have not yet been vaccinated. Officials blame this on communicable foreign virus strains and on lockdown scofflaws. Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to extend the five-week-old national lockdown until Friday, pending parliamentary approval, Israeli media reported. Parliament earlier […]