Mar 9, 2020 - World

Pence urged Israel not to target U.S. with coronavirus quarantine: "Go global"

Pence with Netanyahu. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence personally asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to target Israel's newly announced coronavirus quarantine at only visitors from the U.S., but to "go global," senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: On Monday, Netanyahu announced a new policy of self-quarantine for a period of 14 days for anyone who enters Israel regardless of their country of origin — thus implementing Pence's request, made during a call on Sunday. Israeli officials say Pence's request significantly influenced Netanyahu's decision.

Behind the scenes: Pence stressed to Netanyahu that he understands Israel's concerns about a coronavirus outbreak, but said the Trump administration would not look favorably on a policy that only affected the U.S. and several European countries, like Italy.

  • If the policy included the entire world, though, Pence said the U.S. would raise no objections, the Israeli officials say.

Netanyahu's office didn't deny this account but said Pence stressed to Netanyahu that Israel is free to make its own decisions and praised the Israeli policy toward the crisis.

  • Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, told Axios he listened in on the call and disputed this characterization, though he would not clarify what was said.
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