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Israel and Greece said negotiating travel corridor for the vaccinated

Greek PM reportedly set to visit Jerusalem next week to announce agreement that would allow unrestricted movement between the two countries

People gather in Limanakia Vouliagenis beach in southern Athens, August 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
People gather in Limanakia Vouliagenis beach in southern Athens, August 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Israel and Greece are reportedly negotiating a tourism pact to mutually recognize the countries’ vaccination certificates.

The agreement would allow travelers who have been vaccinated to move between the countries without any restrictions, according to Wednesday reports.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to make a quick visit to Israel on February 8 to announce the deal. The visit would come after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to appear in court for his trial on corruption charges earlier the same day.

Greece’s foreign minister and tourism minister will join Mitsotakis for the visit, the Walla news site reported.

Israel’s Health Ministry has yet to approve the tourism plan, though, Walla said.

If the deal goes through, travelers will need to present certification proving they have been vaccinated and will not need to be tested for the virus before departure or after arriving or spend any time in quarantine. The reports did not say when the planned agreement would go into effect.

Mitsotakis and a Greek delegation visited Jerusalem in June to discuss tourism between Greece and Israel and other issues.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis at an event in Jerusalem, June 16, 2020. (Debbie Hill/Pool/AFP)

Israel is also in talks about enacting similar agreements with Romania, Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia and Seychelles, the Ynet news site reported.

Israel, Greece and Cyprus have friendly relations, including over gas production in the Mediterranean, and all have a tense relationship with Turkey, which seeks to expand its fuel production in the region.

Israel is currently under a nationwide lockdown to stem a raging third-wave virus outbreak. The restrictions have shuttered its main international airport to commercial flights to prevent the import of new, more infectious virus variants from abroad.

The British variant accounts for the majority of new cases in Israel and is causing more serious illness among younger Israelis than the original strain of the virus.

The lockdown is set to be lifted Friday but health officials are reportedly pushing for an extension.

Israel’s vaccination campaign, while slowing, has been largely successful and has given hope that the pandemic will begin to abate.

Israel has led the world’s most rapid inoculation campaign, with over a third of the population getting at least one dose. All adults will be eligible to receive vaccines starting on Thursday.

Earlier in the pandemic, Israel, which had a low infection rate at the time, held talks with other countries about setting up restriction-free travel zones, but the proposed agreements never came to fruition.

Some countries, including Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates, were for a time ruled “green zones” by the Health Ministry, allowing Israelis to travel there without quarantining, but those loopholes closed in December.

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