New guidelines: Israel restricts its COVID-19 ‘green pass’ rules, sparking protest

New guidelines: Israel restricts its COVID-19 ‘green pass’ rules, sparking protest
People drive in a convoy to slow down the traffic on the highway by the entrance to Tel Aviv, as part of a protest against the government's new policy regarding "green pass" restrictions, amid the coronavirus, in Tel Aviv, Israel Oct. 3, 2021 (Reuters)
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Updated 04 October 2021

New guidelines: Israel restricts its COVID-19 ‘green pass’ rules, sparking protest

New guidelines: Israel restricts its COVID-19 ‘green pass’ rules, sparking protest
  • Israel is the first country to make a booster shot a requirement for its digital vaccination passport

JERUSALEM: Israel restricted its COVID-19 Green Pass on Sunday to allow only those who have received a vaccine booster dose or recently recuperated from coronavirus to enter indoor venues. The new criteria mean that nearly 2 million people will lose their vaccination passport in the coming days.

Israel is the first country to make a booster shot a requirement for its digital vaccination passport. The move is widely seen as a step to encourage booster vaccination among those who have yet to receive a third dose.

Under the new guidelines, people must have received a booster shot to be eligible for a green pass. Those who have received two vaccine doses, and those who have recovered from coronavirus, will be issued passes valid for six months after the date of their vaccination or recovery.

The government’s advisory Cabinet on coronavirus was set to convene Sunday to discuss existing restrictions and guidelines.

Technical problems hamstrung the Health Ministry’s rollout of the updated green pass as millions of Israelis tried to reissue digital documentation that would allow entry to shops, restaurants, cultural events, gyms and other indoor venues.

Scores of Israelis staged demonstrations around the country in protest of the green pass system, with convoys of cars clogging morning commutes as many Israelis returned to work Sunday after September’s Jewish High Holidays. Opponents of the system said it is a form of forced vaccination.

“We are totally against any forced vaccinations, or any forced medications, and we are totally against doing anything to our children and grandchildren that we don’t agree with,” said Sarah Felt, who protested along the main highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Israel raced out of the gate early this year to vaccinate most of its adult population after striking a deal with Pfizer to trade medical data in exchange for a steady supply of doses.

This summer Israel launched an aggressive booster campaign to shore up waning vaccine efficacy in its population.

Over 60 percent of Israel’s population has received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and nearly 3.5 million of Israel’s 9.3 million citizens have received a booster dose of the vaccine.

But at least 2 million more have received just two doses, and many will lose the privileges bestowed by the green pass.

Recent months have seen a surge in new cases of coronavirus in Israel.

As of Sunday, over 70 percent of the 588 serious coronavirus cases in Israeli hospitals were unvaccinated individuals, according to Health Ministry data.

The ministry issued a statement Sunday morning that because of heavy traffic on its green pass website and app, previously existing certificates would be valid in the coming few days.


Algerian president in Egypt on official visit

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit
Updated 13 sec ago

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit
  • Abdelmadjid Tebboune is on a two-day state visit, and is expected to discuss with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi Arab and African security issues
  • Egypt is the third Arab country that Tebboune has visited since he took office in December 2019, after Saudi Arabia and Tunisia

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received on Monday evening his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune at Cairo International Airport.

Tebboune is on a two-day state visit, and is expected to discuss with El-Sisi Arab and African security issues, including the crisis in neighboring Libya.

The two presidents previously met in January 2020 on the sidelines of the Berlin conference on the Libyan crisis.

Egypt is the third Arab country that Tebboune has visited since he took office in December 2019, after Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

El-Sisi received a written message from Tebboune last week after receiving Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra in Cairo.

El-Sisi and Lamamra discussed bilateral relations and Arab issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Libyan crisis.


Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM
Updated 24 min 39 sec ago

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM
  • Sameh Shoukry: Egypt is always ready to resume negotiations with Ethiopia if there is a political will to reach an agreement
  • Egypt and Sudan reject Ethiopia’s insistence on filling the dam before reaching a binding agreement

CAIRO: Cairo is not to blame for the failure of negotiations over the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has said.

“Egypt is always ready to resume negotiations with Ethiopia if there is a political will to reach an agreement,” he added.

“Egypt is always keen to reach consensus between the three countries — Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia — and to reach a binding legal agreement in accordance with the rules of international law and international practices, in a manner that meets the needs of all parties, which is Ethiopia’s right to development, and the right of Egypt and Sudan to their share of the Nile waters.”

Negotiations between the three countries failed in April 2021 and have not resumed since. Egypt and Sudan reject Ethiopia’s insistence on filling the dam before reaching a binding agreement.


Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally
Updated 24 January 2022

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

CAIRO: Egypt approved Merck & Co’s COVID-19 pill Molnupiravir for emergency use, the country’s drug authority said on Monday, adding that the pill would be locally produced.
The drug will initially be manufactured by five local companies, to be joined later by several other firms, the Egyptian Drug Authority said in a statement.


Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group
Updated 24 January 2022

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group
  • The league affirmed its support for “the UAE’s right to self-defense and to respond to aggression under international law”
  • The league also welcomed the UN Security Council’s “unified position” in condemning the Houthi attacks

CAIRO: The Arab League has urged the international community to classify Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization after last week’s missile and drone attacks on the UAE.

The call followed an emergency meeting of the Arab League on Sunday to discuss the “brutal and vicious terrorist attack on civilians and civilian targets.”

It said the attacks “constitute a violation of international law and international humanitarian law, and a real threat to vital civilian facilities, energy supplies and the stability of the global economy.

“They also constitute a threat to regional peace and security, undermine Arab national security, harm international peace and security, and pose a threat to international commercial shipping lines.”

The meeting welcomed the solidarity of countries, as well as regional and international organizations, with the UAE.

The Arab League also welcomed the UN Security Council’s “unified position” in condemning the Houthi attacks.

The meeting affirmed the league’s support for “the UAE’s right to self-defense and to respond to aggression under international law.”

It stressed “the need for the international community to stand united in the face of this terrorist act that threatens regional and international peace and stability, and to take immediate and decisive measures to deter the Houthi militias, in order to stop their repeated criminal acts in Yemen and the region.”


Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote
Updated 24 January 2022

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends role in politics, won't run in vote
  • Hariri, 51, inherited the political mantle of his father, Rafik, after his assassination in 2005
  • Three times Lebanon's prime minister, Hariri called on his Future Movement not to run any candidates in the election

BEIRUT: Leading Lebanese Sunni Muslim politician Saad Al-Hariri said on Monday he would not run in a forthcoming parliamentary election and was suspending his role in political life, calling on his political party to do the same.
“We will continue to serve our people, but our decision is to suspend any role in power, politics and parliament,” Hariri said in a live televised address.
Three times Lebanon's prime minister, Hariri called on his Future Movement not to run any candidates in the election.

Hariri, 51, inherited the political mantle of his father, Rafik, after his assassination in 2005, becoming the leading Sunni Muslim in Lebanon's sectarian politics.

In 2020, a UN-backed tribunal convicted a member of the heavily armed, Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah of conspiring to kill Rafik Al-Hariri. Hezbollah denies any involvement.

Lebanon's leading Druze politician said Hariri's decision “means a free hand for Hezbollah and the Iranians.”
Walid Jumblatt told Reuters that he was very saddened by the decision of Hariri, Lebanon's leading Sunni Muslim politician: “We're losing a pillar of independence and moderation.”