The U.S. Department of Transportation has called on Israel to allow airlines to fly rescue planes for missing Israelis, or to prevent El Al flights from landing in the United States, Channel 12 reported Saturday.
Israeli land and air gates have been virtually closed since Jan. 25, with Ben Gurion Airport closed for all but a few special flights by Israeli airlines to repatriate Israelis.
According to the report, the U.S. warns that Israel’s current policy, which allows only Israeli airlines to fly the routes, is against airline agreements between the countries.
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The report said a message had been sent from the Biden administration to Jerusalem stating that American planes should be allowed to fly the routes, as well as Israeli carriers, to prevent a possible crisis between the two countries.
Israel fears the UK will threaten similar sanctions, according to the report.
An emergency meeting of the Ministry of Transport on the matter is expected to be held on Sunday.
Regarding the general closure of the airport, Ministry of Health officials told Channel 13 News that they do not plan to reopen the airport for at least another month.
The government has been stepping up its protective measures in recent weeks to prevent the widespread spread of the British and South African infectious strains of the coronavirus.
Citizens who have left the country before 25 January and have gone missing abroad are allowed to return to the country but will be taken immediately to quarantine hotels on arrival. They will be there for two weeks, or ten days if they do a negative test twice within several days.
However, the number of flights, currently operated by El Al, is limited and flies only a select few routes.
In the last few days, there has been a slow but steady decline in daily new coronavirus diseases in Israel, as the effects of the long lock and the vaccination campaign are being felt.
According to Health Ministry figures on Saturday afternoon, Israel registered 4,595 new coronavirus infections on Friday, out of 67,143 tests performed. At the same time, 992 patients were listed as being in poor condition, including 296 who were on ventilators. The death toll climbed to 5,340 as of Saturday afternoon, according to ministry figures.
On Saturday afternoon, 3,820,505 people in Israel received the first of two vaccinations, while 2,453,631 received the second.