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Israel, Bahrain ink ‘unprecedented’ travel corridor deal for the vaccinated

Those carrying a ‘Green Pass’ will be free to travel between nations without quarantine; FM Ashkenazi says more countries will join soon

Travellers at Ben Gurion International Airport on April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Travellers at Ben Gurion International Airport on April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israel and Bahrain on Thursday reached a trailblazing agreement to mutually recognize each other’s vaccinations and the so-called Green Pass given to those fully inoculated or recovered, following the successful immunization drives in both nations.

The deal was negotiated between Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif al-Zayani during talks in recent weeks.

Vaccinated individuals from both nations will be exempt from quarantine upon arrival to either country and will be able to enter areas that require a Green Pass.

“The unprecedented deal between Israel and Bahrain demonstrates the historical change that has occurred in the Middle East in recent months,” Ashkenazi said, predicting that “in the coming days” Israel will reach similar agreements with additional countries.

Ashkenazi added: “Bahrain’s recognition of the vaccine certificate opens the door for more countries to recognize the Green Pass and will lead to an increase in tourism and economic growth.”

FM Ashkenazi, right, welcomes Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 18, 2020 (Miri Shimonovich/MFA)

More than 5 million Israelis, over half the total population, have already received both doses for inoculation against COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met the British minister in charge of the UK’s pandemic response, Michael Gove, in his Jerusalem office, amid plans to establish a similar agreement between the countries.

Bahrain’s national airline Gulf Air announced Sunday that it will begin offering direct flights between Manama and Tel Aviv on June 3.

A banner at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, posting rules for visitors, with entry to the museum’s auditorium for Green Pass holders only, and regulations concerning masks, social distancing and food (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

The flights and vaccination agreement are the latest in a series of moves linking Israel closer to the Gulf since the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain established full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state under the Abraham Accords, a pact brokered under former US president Donald Trump.

Morocco and Sudan have also normalized ties.

The agreements broke with the long-standing Arab notion that there should be no normalization with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia has so far refrained from formalizing ties with Israel but has given the green light to overflights from the Jewish state, in an implicit sign of approval.

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