Sever Plocker
Sever Plocker
Photo: Uri Davidowitz, Nitzan Dror
EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret and President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem

The politics of coronavirus

Opinion: The EU omits Israel from the list of countries allowed to fly into its airports, which Jerusalem attributes to climbing infection rate but could be a message on annexation, while populism triumphs in Israeli decision-making on testing

Sever Plocker |
Published: 07.07.20 , 23:30
The European Union has announced it is opening its airports to flights from several countries. Israel is not among them.
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  • Official sources in Jerusalem blamed the increase in coronavirus cases for the omission but they are misleading the public.
    EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret and President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in JerusalemEU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret and President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem
    EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret and President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem
    (Photo: EU delegation to Israel)
    Israel was taken off the list of countries that are welcomed back in EU airports as a message to Jerusalem that its planned annexation in the West Bank would not be viewed favorably in Brussels.
    Politico published a piece revealing the politics behind decisions to allow or ban countries from access to Europe, citing an example of France that was keen to allow entry from Algeria and Morocco despite their COVID-19 numbers, an unknown quantity, estimated to be among the highest.
    This is a small sample of Israel's foreign relations challenges that may result if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to carry out his threat to extend sovereignty on any West Bank land.
    בדיקות קורונה ברמת השרוןבדיקות קורונה ברמת השרון
    Testing for coronavirus in Ramat Hasharon outside Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AFP)
    At home, meanwhile, infectious disease experts believe 2.5 to 3.5 percent of Israelis have already been infected by COVID-19, representing some 300,000 carriers. Most are either asymptomatic or suffering only a mild version of the illness.
    If everyone in the country were to be tested at the same time, therefore, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus would be ten times greater than the current number. Millions would then be told to quarantine and that is not a realistic option.
    So, what is the point in increased testing for COVID-19? We are testing over 24,000 people daily but to what end?
    Likewise, I must ask, what would be the benefit of serological tests we are constantly told are coming down the pipeline if they are not carried out based on statistical methodology?
    They could only add to the confusion and present a misleading picture of the spread of the disease.
    בדיקות קורונה ברמת השרוןבדיקות קורונה ברמת השרון
    Testing for coronavirus in Ramat Hasharon outside Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AFP)
    Testing should be concentrated in areas identified as hot spots and should be based on scientific modeling.
    But the Israeli government is addicted to testing for the sake of testing instead of implementing effective measures to stop the spread of the virus. Decision-makers have known what those measures are for months.
    Populism has triumphed over logical thinking once again.
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