Israel Sunday seemingly backed off coronavirus-related travel restrictions it was considering for certain American states as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's response to the disease and said any new restrictions on travelers entering the nation would apply to those coming from "all countries."
Multiple outlets had previously reported that Israel was considering a mandatory quarantine for those flying to Israel from New York, California and Washington state. But Haaretz reported Sunday that those close to Netanyahu were pressuring Health Ministry officials to avoid releasing new regulations for travelers from America. The saga continued Sunday night when Netanyahu praised the United States' handling of the coronavirus while apparently saying the nation would not single out the United States -- or any of its states -- for travel restrictions.
"I wanted to thank President Trump and Vice President Pence for their extraordinary cooperation with Israel," Netanyahu said in remarks released on the Israeli Prime Minister's Facebook account. "They have perhaps the finest people in the world dealing with this: Deborah Birx who we spoke to today, the heads of the CDC. These are exceptional people."
He continued: "Regarding the question of imposing a quarantine requirement, first of all, we are taking action as we understand it and according to our needs, and everyone accepts this, clearly the US as well," he said. "We see a sharp increase in many other countries and we reached the conclusion that if we need to take other steps, this will, in effect, be applied to all countries. There is no reason to do this in a small way."
Israel and the United States have enjoyed a friendly relationship under President Trump's administration, with the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem -- a move every president since Bill Clinton has put off -- and the two countries have worked closely on a potential peace plan with the Palestinians, releasing a framework for a two-state solution in January.
Netanyahu said that his government had been deliberating potential travel or health restrictions to deal with the coronavirus and that it would continue to do so on Monday, including in a discussion with U.S. officials. Any action would come Monday.
"We discussed this at length today and we will discuss it tonight as well," Netanyahu said Sunday. "The head of the NSC is holding follow-up consultations with professional people, tomorrow morning as well, and we will make a decision during the course of the day tomorrow."