Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chatted by phone on Wednesday, the first day of Passover.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that the two leaders “discussed ongoing efforts to contain and mitigate COVID-19. They also discussed Iran’s destabilizing behavior and the unwavering US commitment to Israel’s security.”
Israel has not yet released a readout of the phone call.
Why it matters: The United States has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world with nearly 435,000 infections and nearly 15,000 deaths to date. Israel has also been hard hit by the pandemic, with nearly 10,000 recorded infections and 79 deaths. In the meantime, the Israeli public is under severe movement restrictions. The Israeli government instated a curfew for the first night of Passover to ensure that people did not congregate.
What’s next: Both countries are hastily trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Science Minister Ofir Akunis has said that Israel could have the first vaccine developed within as little as three months — though it would likely take much longer for the drug to become publicly available.
Know more: Mazel Mualem reports that the Knesset’s coronavirus committee has issued a report slamming Netanyahu’s response to the crisis. And be sure to read her story on how the pandemic has hit Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community particularly hard, creating friction with the Netanyahu government. Meanwhile, Shlomi Eldar reports on Arab Israeli concerns about adequate access to COVID-19 tests.
Found in: passover, covid-19, pandemic, vaccines, coronavirus, us-israel relations, benjamin netanyahu, mike pompeo