Ukraine’s Zelensky Speaks With Netanyahu on Pandemic Coordination, ‘Grateful’ for Israeli Vaccine Aid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is welcomed to the presidential palace in Kiev by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Aug. 19, 2019. Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO.

Ukrainian Prime Minister publicly thanked his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu Friday, after the two leaders spoke by phone to coordinate on pandemic travel measures and COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

“Grateful to @netanyahu for his willingness to help speed up #COVID19 vaccine supply. I wish the people of Israel good health. Green pass can resume ✈️ travel between 🇺🇦 & 🇮🇱. We’re ready to discuss this initiative. Welcome to the 30th anniversary of 🇺🇦 independence,” tweeted Zelensky.

Israelis who have been fully vaccinated can be eligible to receive the “green pass,” a digital or physical document authorized by the Ministry of Health that will grant access to events and activities previously restricted by social distancing measures.

The two discussed a possible agreement based on the passes that would restore travel between Israel and Ukraine. The latter’s travel restrictions during the 2020 Rosh Hashanah season were controversial among some Breslov Hasidim in Israel, a number of whom travel annually to the Ukrainian town of Uman for the Jewish new year.

Some observers noted that European countries were increasingly turning for help to Israel’s world-leading vaccine campaign, which has inoculated nearly half the country with two doses.

“It feels like more countries may soon be relying on #Israel for vaccines than the #EU Commission. Perhaps Ursula von der Leyen should dare more Netanyahu,” tweeted the German journalist Philipp Fritz, referring to the president of the European Commission.

The European Union has struggled to get sufficient doses of the vaccine into the hands of its member states, with per capita inoculation numbers lagging countries like the United States and United Kingdom.

On Thursday, Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, also to discuss restoring travel and vaccine production and development.

“We appreciate the fact that they’ve opened up missions in Jerusalem and also that they assist us on the international stage as true friends do. In the spirt of that friendship, they came here to Jerusalem to see how we can cooperate on COVID,” said Netanyahu at a press conference.


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