Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met the British minister in charge of the UK’s pandemic response, Michael Gove, in his Jerusalem office on Tuesday, amid plans to establish a “green” travel corridor between the countries with mutual recognition of vaccinations following the successful immunization drives in both nations.
Netanyahu and Gove discussed “the option of increasing cooperation in the research, development and manufacturing of vaccines against the coronavirus and future viruses,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The statement quoted Gove, a senior member of the Conservative Party, as hailing Israel’s “big success” in the vaccination of its population and saying Britain wanted to learn from Israel’s experience in reopening the economy.
Additionally, Netanyahu and Gove agreed to promote the upgrading of the countries’ free trade agreement, the statement said.
Gove also met Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and other senior Health Ministry officials, Hebrew media reported.
They discussed the travel corridor plan and additional cooperation on the pandemic response.
“The global battle against the coronavirus necessitates bilateral cooperations,” said Edelstein. “Israel and Britain have excellent cooperation on health. The continued cooperation will help create better health and economy.”
Earlier in the day, Gove was hosted by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi for talks in Jerusalem.
“The fight against the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge the entire world is contending with. After the medical challenge, ways need to be found to get the economy back on course as quickly as possible. We’ll promote, together with Britain, mutual recognition of vaccinations to allow tourists and business people from the two countries to return to routine safely,” Ashkenazi was quoted as saying in a ministry statement.
The statement did not specify when the proposed travel plan could be launched, nor whether it would be open solely to those who have been vaccinated.
Israel, which has begun loosening travel restrictions amid the success of its national vaccination campaign and continued drop in new infections, has recently inked travel agreements with Georgia, Greece and Cyprus.
Gove came to Israel to study Israel’s “Green Pass” system that allows people who have been vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus to participate in various activities, including indoor dining, shows and sports events.
In a column for the Telegraph newspaper earlier this month, Gove touted the Israeli Green Pass and voiced support for adopting a similar system in the United Kingdom.
“If Israel can accelerate its citizens’ returns to nightclubs, [soccer stadiums] and theaters with these certificates, might we?” Gove wrote.
He also said the UK expected other countries to roll out similar initiatives requiring travelers to prove their coronavirus status and that Britain therefore must look into the matter.
According to the Oxford University-based Our World in Data, Israel and the UK respectively rank first and second among all countries in terms of the percentage of people who have received at least one vaccine dose.