Former head of vaccine programme: ‘Any jabbed individual’ could visit Israel
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Former head of vaccine programme: ‘Any jabbed individual’ could visit Israel

Prof. Ronni Gamzu told BBC Newsnight, the Jewish state's world-leading inoculation drive allowed 'vast' parts of society to reopen, and offered the possibility of visitors

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Israeli singer Berry Sakharof performs in Gush Etzion, in the West Bank, March 18, 2021. The concert was only allowed for people who have the Green Pass- have been vaccinated, or have recovered from Coronavirus. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90
Israeli singer Berry Sakharof performs in Gush Etzion, in the West Bank, March 18, 2021. The concert was only allowed for people who have the Green Pass- have been vaccinated, or have recovered from Coronavirus. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90

The former head of Israel’s coronavirus inoculation programme has said “any vaccinated individual” from the UK, Europe or elsewhere in the world should be free to travel to his country.

Professor Ronni Gamzu – who became the public face of Israel’s vaccination programme after being appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu last July – also backed the use of so-called Green Passports to allow entry into bars, shops and other venues for those who had received the jab.

He said:”Green passports for a limited time, for a temporary period, are reasonable. It allows you to reopen the country in the most safe way.”

Speaking to BBC Newsnight Professor Gamzu was asked if the success of Israel’s vaccination programme and of the roll-out of the programme in the UK could soon lead to the opening of a travel corridor between the two countries.

He said “I believe any vaccinated individual, from the States from the UK, from any place in Europe between Israel, any place in the world, any vaccinated individual can have, should have free travel.

“This is what we are fighting for, this is getting back to normal ways.

“You know in Israel, we are back to kissing, we are back to hugging – this is the way to go.”

A veteran doctor, former Health Ministry director-general and current manager of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, Dr Gamzu also dismissed claims that the Green Passports are discriminatory.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted on Monday that they could be introduced in the UK in some form after describing the principle of vaccination passports as sensible.

Professor Gamzu added their introduction had allowed “vast” areas of Israel to reopen – and that over time the number of citizens who had not been vaccinated in his country had dramatically reduced.

The vaccine expert, who quit his post in November after repeatedly clashing with PM Netanyahu, also criticised Israel’s failure to roll-out its vaccination programme to the entire region under the control of the Palestinian authority.

Covid jabs have been administered to Palestinian workers entering Israel, but the progamme has not been introduced for all citizens of the West Bank.

While the Oslo Accords put health care in the region in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, a line in the agreement would also seen to suggest that the spread of contageous diseases were also Israel’s responsibility.

Professor Gamzu said he was “not sure why” this had happened. But he added:”This is our obligation, this is our duty.

“This makes sense as a position.

“As a scientist you do not vaccinate a country – you vaccinate an area. We have done that with the Palestinians with work permits, we should do that with all of the Palestinian Authority. Any leader in Israel who is looking for peace, will make sure that they get vaccines.”

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