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More than 125,000 COVID cases in the last two days; meanwhile finance minister, Likud Knesset member both call for scrapping the Green Passport

Finance minister says he is “working with all parties to eliminate the Green Passport and preserve a normal routine for all of us”

Israelis shopping at un open-air market in Jerusalem, Jan. 13, 2022. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

After a delay in reporting, Israel's Ministry of Health updated its website with shocking new statistics Tuesday evening: More than 125,000 people in Israel tested positive for COVID in the past two days.

On Sunday, 62,210 and another 65,259 on Monday – setting a new daily record which was previously set at 48,000 last week.

Nearly 500 people with COVID are now in serious condition in Israeli hospitals, 100 of whom are on ventilators.

Meanwhile, in more shocking news, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman today called on Israel to do away with the Green Passport.

“There is no medical and epidemiological logic in the Green Passport as many experts concur,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is, however, direct harm to the economy, to daily operations and a not insignificant contribution to daily panic in the public. I am working with all parties to eliminate the Green Passport and preserve a normal routine for all of us.”

Liberman is the highest government official to call for an end to the system. But yesterday in a Knesset committee meeting, Gadi Yevrekan of the Likud party, echoed these sentiments and said that by his estimation, 50% of parliamentarians agreed with him in abolishing the Green Passport, but were too afraid to speak up.

Today he issued a statement saying that steps by the Health Ministry to reduce hardships created by the Green Passport are welcome, but are not enough.

“The government must cancel the testing outline and the quarantines and give people their freedom back,” he said. “For months now, I’ve been the only voice out of 120 Knesset members who has been shouting to end this discriminatory and unjust system.”

“I call to end the ‘Green Passport’ system, end the quarantines and end the tests which lack real transparency in terms of people infected with the Omicron variant.”

“Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz called me, in the Knesset plenum, irresponsible, despite my position being backed by a team of experts,” he continued. “In the end, the Health Ministry is starting to accept our recommendations – only after the public paid dearly economically, in terms of democracy, in terms of mental health and social cohesion.”

“The one who called me ‘irresponsible’ behaved irresponsibly toward the public and led to everyone being harmed. But the pressure is starting to work.”

The Green Passport, which has been in effect to varying degrees since March last year, limits entry to specific public venues to just COVID-19 vaccinated and recovered individuals. Gyms, hotels, restaurants and theaters have been off limits since September.

The Green Passport also affects quarantine time – releasing those who have a valid vaccination/recovery certificate from isolation immediately upon receiving negative results from a home test after coming into contact with a COVID carrier. Up until now, those without a Green Passport were required to spend 14 days in isolation or seven days pending two negative PCR tests taken at the beginning and the end of the quarantine time.

These rules have sent both the economy and the education system into a tailspin.

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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