COVID: Israel’s ban on recovered American tourists from being vetted by the Knesset

The Law and Constitution Committee of the Knesset will examine the regulations that prevent people who meet the recovery criteria established by Israel but who do not have electronic certificates to prove it from entering the country, founder of the NGO Yad L’Olim Dov Lipman , a former member of the Knesset, said.
Lipman expressed optimism that the meeting, scheduled for Thursday, will mark the beginning of a process to amend this and other rules that keep people who have deep ties to him out of the country, including children, parents and siblings of citizens and Israeli residents. .

“We are very convinced on this issue and I have been spending my time explaining the situation to members of the Knesset,” Lipman said. “The chairman of the committee, MK Gilad Kariv, set a hearing for tomorrow.”

Israeli borders were closed to foreign nationals for more than twenty months during the pandemic. In April, a special procedure was established to allow vaccinated or recovered first-degree relatives of Israeli citizens to receive permission to enter the country.

However, in September, the Ministry of Health changed its criteria for considering an individual vaccinated or recovered: to meet them, people must be vaccinated twice in the previous six months, vaccinated with a booster, recover with an injection, or recover. within six months.

APPOINTED GILAD KARIV Chairs Committee at Knesset, July 5 (Credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH 90)

As of November 1, the country reopened its skies to foreign visitors who meet these conditions, requiring, in the case of recovered tourists, to present an electronic recovery certificate. At the same time, he canceled the possibility of requesting special permits as first-degree relatives.

This has practically left many who were able to visit Israel under the old system, unable to do so now, either because they do not meet the criteria (the drivers are not yet widely available) or because they cannot prove that they do.

Israel is part of the European Union’s COVID digital certificate consortium, which includes more than 40 countries that provide mutually recognized electronic documentation. For people who are not from these countries, the Israeli authorities consider that recovery certificates are too easy to forge and are therefore not recognized.

“People in the United States who have recovered from COVID in the previous six months, or earlier, and then received only one injection cannot enter, it does not make sense,” Lipman said.

During the hearing, he will propose a solution: require that people recovered without electronic documentation undergo a serological test in Israel.

Before November 1, a serological test, which can demonstrate the presence of antibodies in the blood, was required for people vaccinated or recovered abroad to be considered as such in the country.

In addition, as of November 15, Israel will allow visits to people inoculated with the Sputnik vaccine, which is not recognized by the World Health Organization and therefore is not currently accepted as a legitimate vaccine by the Ministry of Health. Health, as long as they undergo a serological test.

“If they are offering this option for Sputnik recipients, why not also allow it for recovered people whose documents are not accepted?” Lipman pointed out.

Established earlier this year, Yad L’Olim aims to help new immigrants navigate their new life in Israel, including the country’s notorious bureaucracy. In recent months, the NGO has focused on supporting the olim and their relatives abroad to ensure they could see each other despite the pandemic, from pressuring government officials to take their needs into account in the design. from the rules to helping people in petition offices and filling out forms.

During the committee meeting, Lipman will also raise the issue of people who do not meet the vaccination criteria – for example, because they were vaccinated more than six months before – and have no way to enter the country, not even for one family. life cycle event.

“At the moment, the only situation accepted by the exception committee that grants special permission is that of the parents of a boyfriend or a girlfriend,” Lipman said. But how can Israel prevent a grandfather from attending the birth of a grandson, or a brother attending his brother’s wedding? Ask them to quarantine themselves, to take all necessary precautions, but let them come. “

When asked if he believed that things could really change, also considering that deputies have generally been hesitant to challenge the decisions of the Ministry of Health, he expressed confidence that it will happen.

“Most of the MPs I talk to don’t know the details of the rules and how they affect people, but when I explained to them how a father who raised his son to be a Zionist and to make aliyah cannot visit them as they are serving in the military as lone soldiers or while giving birth, they are shocked, ”Lipman said.

“Kariv has shown a willingness to look closely at the rules and ask for changes when they seem wrong.” “I hope that tomorrow marks at least the beginning of the process to do it.”

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