PM Netanyahu Holds Coronavirus Conference Call with European Leaders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning, (Monday, 9 March 2020), at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, held a video conference with European leaders and discussed with them the challenges, and cooperation between countries, in dealing with the Coronavirus.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban participated.

Prime Minister Netanyahu at the start of the conference call:

“I have welcomed this opportunity to have this video conference because I think that we can help our countries and help each other by sharing information and coordinating certain activities. Because I know that time is of the essence, both your time and our countries' time, I want to suggest that we first form this forum that will continue with points of contact from each of our countries in order to be able to continue with some of things that will arise in this conversation.

Specifically, I have three suggestions for cooperation. The first is in the area of widespread testing; changing completely the rate of testing, the span of the testing of our people and the speed of the test. I spoke about this yesterday with Vice President Pence of the United States and with his expert, Birx, a very impressive woman, who is now in charge of all the activities that they do opposite the coronavirus.

What we are trying to do is develop essentially…if I can say what is the ultimate goal is to have home tests. Just like you do for pregnancy or HIV. That people can test themselves. When that happens we can narrow down considerably, we can separate more effectively and more efficiently, healthy people from sick people. This is good for health and it's very good for our economy because we are going to run into serious problems of mass quarantines and you can't run economies that way.

So we are pooling our research people with their research people. I suggest that if you think you have scientific and technological contributions to this that we talk to each other and we of course make sure the Americans understand this because I think this has to be a worldwide effort. It's not about who gets there first, but about how we all get there first. This is the first point. Improving testing is absolutely critical, of course looking for a vaccine as well. I include that in the improvement of the scientific and technological means to fight the disease.

The second thing is related to transport and the ability to assure supply chains. We can get very quickly into a position of shutdowns of aircraft or a constriction of air travel. That is happening as we speak. We constricted air travel to people who can come and be tested. I know other countries are doing the same. That's going to happen.

In order to assure supply chains, I propose that we have safe hubs and safe planes for travel. In other words, we can designate airports, across for all of us, in Europe, and we say this is a clean airport. We apply consistent efforts to keep it clean. We scrub it. We disinfect it all the time. Around the clock. We also test the people who work there all the time. I believe the Chinese are doing that all the time for their own industry. They are keeping their industry open by testing the people, the critical workers, all the time.

I suggest that we have this effort for safe hubs, safe air hubs, in Europe. Wherever we decide. So that we can send a plane, you can send a plane, exchange could happen there as opposed to having to clean up all our airports at a rate and at a cost that we are not able to do. This could also be a meeting ground for leaders and a meeting ground for technologists where they could actually meet and not just be reliant on the internet as we are doing right now. So that is the second thing that I suggest: safe air hubs.

The third is of course the exchange of best practices. We each have our own experiences. We see what works, what doesn't work and we can trade with each other.

This is the basis of the suggestion that I had and I suggest that we have. You will probably have other ideas and I look forward to hearing them. My only suggestion is that we have a point of contact at each of our governments. In this case, we have Brig.-Gen. Slovik who is our contact, Yigal Slovik. And I ask that you each designate a point of contact so that we can continue this discussion.”

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