Israel Reopens Skies to Flights From All Locations a Week Before Election

Cabinet removes some COVID restrictions to let citizens return to the country and vote, but keeps 3,000-person cap on daily arrivals

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Ben-Gurion International Airport, last week
Ben-Gurion International Airport, last weekCredit: Ilan Assayag

Israel has reopened its skies to flights from all locations and to all destinations beginning on Tuesday, following a decision by the cabinet on Sunday night to remove some restrictions on incoming flights that would allow Israelis stuck abroad to return to the country ahead of the election next Tuesday.

Ministers, however, decided to keep the 3,000-person cap on daily arrivals. The amended regulations will come into effect on Tuesday. In its decision, the cabinet emphasized that the Health Ministry has the authority to cancel flights that could potentially endanger public health.

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Until now, Israelis could only return to Israel from a limited number of cities, including London, Frankfurt, Paris, Kiev and New York.

Israel's High Court of Justice demanded on Sunday that the state provide an updated estimate of how many Israelis remain stuck abroad by 4 P.M. on Monday.

At Sunday’s hearing on a petition against the cabinet decision limiting how many Israelis can return each day, the state said that around 1,300 Israelis were still stuck overseas as of last Friday, based on a survey conducted by the Foreign Ministry.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israelis should be allowed to return to Israel from any destination where they are abroad.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that the cap should not be increased in light of new strains of the virus, although the managing director of Ben-Gurion International Airport told the High Court that airport staff could handle the entry of around 4,000 incoming passengers a day while observing coronavirus regulations.

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