Michael Gove in Israel to 'consider vaccine passport choices'
UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has travelled to Israel to evaluate the Jewish state’s coronavirus “green pass” system, according to British media reports.
Gove's visit to Israel comes as the UK contemplates implementing a Covid-19 vaccine passport system as part of reopening measures.
In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister’s office said that Benjamin Netanyahu met Gove and talked about “mutual recognition of the ‘Green Passport’”, plus research-related collaboration.
The message added that the pair also “agreed on moving forward on upgrading the bilateral free trade agreement.”
Gove reportedly relayed the UK’s desire to learn about getting back to normal from Israel.
The British Government said the visit to Israel was “purely Covid-related,” The Independent reported.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, travelled alongside Gove, who has been charged with a governmental investigation into “Covid-status certification.”
The pair’s trip is also thought to involve observing Covid screening facilities at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, with the possibility of establishing an air travel corridor between the UK and Israel, Sky News said.
Read more: Why is Israel denying Covid vaccine to Palestinians? Two words: Medical apartheid
Israel’s green pass system uses a mobile app that controls access to fitness, hospitality and recreational facilities.
Gove said that because vaccines against Covid are never infallible, other schemes like Covid-status certification, commonly known as vaccine passports, are under consideration.
Gove also explained in The Sunday Telegraph that Israel’s scheme permits those who have received the vaccine or recently tested negative for or recovered from Covid to access social spaces like nightclubs.
He questioned whether a similar system could benefit the UK.
News of the visit prompted some to ask whether Gove would raise criticism of Israel's vaccine scheme, which has been criticised for alleged discrimination against Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
“Wonder if he will ask why Palestine is being starved of vaccine[s]?" wrote one Twitter user. “Actually I don’t. I’m pretty sure I know the answer."
Israel, which has one of the world’s most successful Covid vaccine rollouts for its own citizens, has denied this opportunity from most Palestinian citizens living in areas it occupies.
It has only agreed to vaccinate the 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel or its illegal West Bank settlements.