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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Scoop: Netanyahu shared fake video as proof of Iranian virus cover-up

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared with his Cabinet a video he claimed was evidence of Iran concealing coronavirus deaths by dropping bodies in garbage dumps, two Cabinet ministers tell me.

Behind the scenes: Several hours later, Netanyahu's office realized the video had nothing to do with Iran, or with the coronavirus crisis. It was a clip from “Pandemic," a 2007 Hallmark Channel mini-series.

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Israeli intelligence bought 100,000 of the wrong coronavirus test kits

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Israel's foreign intelligence service, Mossad, stepped in to help secure much-needed coronavirus tests from countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, only to find they were the wrong ones, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: Israel has serious shortages of medical equipment needed to fight the outbreak, leaving Israeli embassies and even intelligence agencies scrambling to get their hands on everything from medical masks to test kits.

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Israel stunned as rivals Netanyahu and Gantz join forces

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Why it matters: This is a big step toward ending Israel's year-long political deadlock and a victory for Netanyahu, who will stay on as prime minister for at least another 18 months even as his corruption trial gets underway.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - World