Ahead of the normalization deal signing between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuven Azar, violated the coronavirus regulations of the Prime Minister’s Office by leaving the hotel where the Israeli delegation is staying in Washington.
The Israeli delegation is under strict rules that include maintaining small groups, called capsules, and not leaving the premises of the hotel so that they will not be required to self-quarantine upon their return from the United States.
Israel requires all arrivals from foreign countries to enter into a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine, except those from nations listed as ”green,” indicating a low coronavirus rate. The US is not one such nation.
Azar reportedly left the hotel to go on a run.
In response to the violation, senior delegation official Asher Hayun reemphasized the importance of carefully maintaining the coronavirus regulations, according to Hebrew media reports.
Netanyahu and the Israeli delegation landed early Monday in the US, ahead of a Tuesday ceremony at the White House where he and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will formally establish diplomatic relations — Israel’s third and fourth such treaties with Arab states.
The normalization of relations with the UAE and Bahrain follow Israel’s treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
The signing ceremony is still one step short of official ratification under Israeli law, which legal experts have said requires the imprimatur of the cabinet and Knesset for official peace treaties. But support for the agreements is very high in the Knesset and crosses partisan lines, so approval is expected to be overwhelming.
While the deals are popular among Israelis, the prime minister has drawn criticism for the timing of his flight, which comes as the country braces for a second major coronavirus-induced lockdown set to begin Friday that will see schools and many businesses shuttered for three weeks.
As of Monday evening, Health Ministry data said that there have been a total of 159,290 confirmed coronaviruses cases in Israel, with 1,136 deaths.
In the United States, Center for Disease Control data indicates that there have been a total of 6,503,030 coronavirus cases, with 193,705 deaths.