MKs rage over government’s refusal to share info on reopening skies plan

C’ttee head Shasha-Biton: These are not state secrets

Knesset commitee on coronavirus meets to discuss furher regulations, April 7, 2020 (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Knesset commitee on coronavirus meets to discuss furher regulations, April 7, 2020
The Knesset Coronavirus Committee expressed deep discontent over the government’s refusal to share information about the national plan to reopen the skies on Monday.
“Why can’t a country that hacked the Iranian Intelligence [Services] open a [coronavirus] lab in 24 hours?” former justice minister Ayelet Shaked asked.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky called Israel’s position “a Third World country’s” and complained that in Ukraine people get COVID-19 results “right away” and in Jordan “in 15 minutes.” She called reports about the expected reopening of flights “Isra-bluff.”
The government plans to open the country, which is Red, to 10 Green countries with low infection rates. Discussions are being conducted between the Foreign Ministry and these countries to achieve that goal. Committee members who requested the Health Ministry present the committee the list of these 10 countries were denied.
The goal is to allow Israelis to leave the country and re-enter it without quarantines as if they are “returning from Afula,” Health Ministry’s head of foreign relations Asher Salmon told the committee
“This group of would-be passengers don’t need a rapid answer because they know the flight is planned and can wait for 24 hours” to get a COVID-19 test result, he said.
“I have a list of countries in my hand but I can’t reveal it, there are more than ten countries. Some countries are becoming green such as Canada, which accepts Israelis,” he added.
His words caused an uproar and led to committee chairwoman Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud) to rebuke him, saying: “These are not state secrets; there is no reason to keep it hidden from MKs.”
Shasha-Biton expressed her deep displeasure with the positions the government presented, saying that “nothing here is new,” and “we are moving backwards. This is a great disappointment.”
In addition to that discussion, the Knesset Economy Committee approved a change in regulations to allow pilots to skip written exams and focus on proving their flying skills ahead of reopening the skies.
Roughly 85% of Israeli pilots haven’t flown during COVID-19 and previous regulations mandated they pass a written exam every six months to keep flying.
Israel Air Line Pilots Association head Capt. Meidan Bar informed the Knesset that if the airlines want to resume flights in September, pilots should have been allowed to fly since Sunday.
The change extends the time period between written exams to every two years and includes Air Traffic Controllers and Flight Technicians.
Bar was also present at the Coronavirus Committee panel and said, “People are flying all over the world. Are we going to just sit here and talk?”