Tag Archives: Israel

Commission plan to restart COVID travel – POLITICO | Instant News

Press play to listen to this article The European Commission wants to restart travel within the EU and beyond with what it calls a ‘digital green certificate’ proving you’ve had your shot, said President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week. The purpose of the certificates, von der Leyen wrote to member countries on Friday, “is to ensure that where people can enjoy free movement without risk to public health, they should be able to do so. “The ‘digital green certificate’ will be designed to facilitate free movement and to ensure that, although some restrictions on free movement may remain in place, these will only be used when justified and to the extent necessary”, she wrote in the letter. by POLITICO. The idea should not be confused with the green pass that Israel launched to allow vaccinated people to return to concert halls and bars: Brussels has its say on free movement, but use of a certificate for such national purposes would go to EU countries, argued the Commission. . But even without straying into the territory of this Member State, the Commission must overcome the doubts of EU governments and the very disparate vaccination strategies, technical complications, confidentiality issues and moral dilemmas. Here’s what we know so far: What’s the plan? The Commission’s legislative proposal is expected on March 17. It’s soon, but most of the details have yet to be completed. The Commission gauged the first thoughts of EU countries on Wednesday, during a debate that several diplomats described as chaotic. “There is a profound lack of clarity on what the pass really is,” said a national diplomat. What is certain, however, is that the Commission wants the green pass to list not only proof of vaccination, but also test results and information. on a virus recovery. Who pushed the idea? The plan is particularly important for southern European countries dependent on tourism such as Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Greece. out of necessity, a fundamental priority for all of us, ”Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the first to champion the idea, wrote to von der Leyen in January. Countries are in no mood to wait: Cypriot Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said on Thursday that vaccinated Britons will be welcomed into the country without restrictions from May; Spain and Greece are also looking for a “green corridor”. Other countries have spoken in favor as well: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lobbied for a digital green certificate during a video meeting of EU leaders last week. Denmark and Sweden have both announced plans to develop a certificate to resume travel; Estonia is working on a pilot project for global vaccine certificates with the World Health Organization. Are all EU countries on board? EU leaders agreed last week that work on a “common approach to vaccination certificates” should continue, but it’s a lukewarm endorsement that leaves a lot of leeway for private and public doubts. “I will not accept a system which conditions access to such and such a country on a certificate,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday. The EU should avoid a scenario where countries each develop their own system, he said, but “such a document should not give specific rights to people who have been vaccinated”. Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès adopted a similar point of view, stressing on Monday that the principle of non-discrimination is “more fundamental than ever”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said last week that a vaccination certificate cannot be the ‘only’ solution to authorizing travel because, for example, there is still no coronavirus vaccine available for minors. “Not only those who have a vaccination certificate will be allowed to travel,” said Merkel, adding that a negative PCR test would continue to be an alternative. While no one is against the idea in principle, there are practical and ethical concerns, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. The “preliminary question,” he added, is whether vaccinated travelers could still transmit the disease. “The initial reports are not negative, but by no means conclusive.” Will it be ready by summer? EU leaders agreed on a “uniform” and “interoperable” vaccine certificate for medical purposes in January. The new proposal to use it for travel would add to that, a Commission spokesperson said this week. But if the EU wants to get an operational vaccine certificate by the summer, it will have to crack. EU countries must implement the uniform certificate in their health systems and at borders, while the Commission must build a ‘bridge’ to link national systems – which von der Leyen says will take at least three month; a document sent to country delegations already mentioned the prospect of a four-month deadline. If past experience is any indication, creating such a gateway for different national immunization database systems to exchange information will be a difficult task. When EU countries developed their individual coronavirus infection tracking apps last year, some countries chose very different technological solutions that made data exchange difficult, if not impossible. “An EU system can only work if the respective national systems are in place on time,” von der Leyen wrote to member states on Friday, calling for “swift implementation” of past decisions and ” rapid adoption ”of the new proposal. . Certificates could be a “powerful boost for our citizens and their free movement,” she concluded. Should I trade my privacy for a vacation? Von der Leyen said the green passes would respect data protection, security and privacy. But European data protection regulators don’t seem excited about the idea. The Belgian regulator said the stated purpose of storing data on those vaccinated and details of how that data would be shared are vague. The regulator is also concerned that the authorities will keep this data for too long. European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski called the idea of ​​an immunity passport “extreme”, also saying that “even the name turns me off a little”. The French data regulator has said it is possible to implement digital green passes while also having them adhere to EU data protection rules, but it is highly likely that protection activists from privacy bring legal action. Will all vaccines reach the grade? With more and more countries breaking their ranks with the EU’s common vaccine strategy, this poses a headache for the planned roll-out of the vaccine certificate: what about Slovak or Hungarian citizens who have received the Russian vaccine Sputnik, or in the case of Hungary now also the Chinese vaccine Sinovac? Can these vaccines be admitted for the EU wide certificate even if the vaccines have not yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency? The European Commission does not appear to have an answer to these questions yet, as a spokesperson said it was too early to answer them. But there are clear doubts – even in countries that administer the sputnik jab to their citizens. Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok told reporters on Tuesday that in his opinion unregistered vaccines should not have the same value as registered vaccines. He added that people should be warned of such a risk. This is a debate that some EU countries believe could distract from the main priority: getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible. EU countries “want more vaccines and not more damage,” a diplomat said. Are there any equity issues with vaccine passports? The current limited vaccine supplies – not only in Europe but around the world – are a major reason the World Health Organization is urging not to make vaccination a travel requirement at this time, although the decision is to see again in a few months. The Parliamentary Committee of the Council of Europe, a human rights body, also drew a (non-binding) red line around vaccine certificates in January, saying they are only suitable for tracking efficacy and side effects. The rapporteur of this file, French MP Jennifer de Temmerman, warned that such passports could create a whole new category of haves and have-nots, depending on their vaccination status. And given the pace of vaccination in her country at the moment, she noted that at this point, the right to travel would primarily rest with residents of nursing homes. However, it’s not as if anyone in the EU is able to fully exercise their freedom of movement just yet, argued Camino Mortera-Martinez, senior researcher at the Center for European Reform. “We are not getting out of a normal situation,” she said. The unvaccinated would not face discrimination, Mortera-Martinez argued, because they would still be allowed to travel under limited circumstances – it would simply be easier for those who were vaccinated. Will it actually work to reduce transmission rates? We do not know. This is the other reason why the WHO is not yet buying into the idea. There are still “critical unknowns regarding the effectiveness of vaccination in reducing transmission,” the United Nations health body said in its latest position paper. Although vaccines clearly prevent symptoms, for example, it is not yet certain whether people without symptoms can still transmit the virus. We also don’t know how long before travel people should be vaccinated, or whether people who have antibodies after recovering from COVID-19 should be exempt from the requirements. Hanne Cokelaere, Sarah Wheaton, Hans von der Burchard, Saim Saeed, Jillian Deutsch, Jacopo Barigazzi, Rym Momtaz.

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Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine targets will require a dramatic increase from our national rollout | Instant News

This is a lofty vaccination goal, and achieving it means rapidly increasing Australia’s rollout to become one of the fastest immunizers in the world.

Health Minister Greg Hunt reiterated this week the government’s goal is to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated by the end of October.

Reaching the target is not impossible, but it is a very big effort.

“We are very confident that all states will continue to improve, I understand that there are different steps … but all of them have good plans,” Hunt said on Tuesday.

“Every week there will be challenges that need to be overcome, but that’s the story of last year.”

Before the launch began, Hunt said 80,000 doses would be distributed in the first week, and gave a “cautious and conservative” estimate that 60,000 of them would be given by that time.

As it turned out, he was neither cautious nor conservative enough.

Only 63,140 doses were distributed, of which they were new 33,702 was actually injected.

We are way below our target

So far, Australia has not given more than 10,000 doses a day.

But to get through all Australians including children, we need to get over 250,000 doses every day, seven days a week.

It is based on indicative size phases one, two, and three of the federal government roadmap, divided equally between the number of days remaining before October 31.

The roadmap provides a sufficient dose for every Australian, including supplies for the minority who are unwilling to receive the vaccine.

Injecting adults will only need about 200,000 injections a day every day until the end of October – which goes along with analysis by University of New South Wales researchers.

The US and UK haven’t solved it yet

Our vaccination campaign is only 10 days old, and it will always start slowly, but every day the country loses speed, the mountains are going to be climbed higher and higher.

And the mountain is already very high by global standards: comparing vaccination rates per capita abroad to Australia’s targets shows that it really is an ambitious logistical endeavor.

The UK and the United States, two large countries that have started vaccination very quickly, are still increasing, but below Australia’s target pace more than two months after their campaign began.

Small nations take the lead

Very few countries vaccinate their citizens at the speed Australia expects, and the countries that manage it tend to be very small countries.

Israel – the country with highest vaccination rate in the world – are at that pace, as have the Maldives, and the United Arab Emirates crossed that limit until recently.

Sri Lanka, a country that is a month on its own vaccine program, is currently running about 15 percent of Australia’s speed target.

What lies ahead?

Australia’s vaccination could not have accelerated this dramatically before local manufacturer CSL started producing bottles.

The challenge for the state government is to prepare to get the bottles into patients as quickly as possible once the supplies arrive.

Follow Australia’s national COVID-19 vaccine rollout with our tracker Mapping Jab.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows for volume.

Inside the company that makes the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine


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UN, European countries call on Israel to stop destruction | Occupy West Bank News | Instant News

The United Nations says at least 70 people or more living in the Bedouin community, including 41 children, are facing displacement in the Humsa Al-Baqaia district.

The United Nations and members of the European Security Council on Friday called on Israel to stop demolition of Bedouin settlements in the Jordan Valley, and for humanitarian access to the community living in Humsa Al-Baqaia.

In a joint statement at the end of the Security Council’s monthly session on conflicts in the Middle East, Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway and the UK said they were “deeply concerned about the recent dismantling and seizure of goods, including the structure of the European Union and its funded by donors carried out by Israeli authorities at Humsa Al-Baqaia in the Jordan Valley. “

It said attention was also focused on the 70 or so people living in the Bedouin community, including 41 children.

“We repeat our call on Israel to stop the demolition and seizures,” the statement said.

“We further call on Israel to allow full, sustainable and unhindered humanitarian access to the community at Humsa Al-Baqaia.”

Humsa al-Baqia is located in the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of land stretching from Lake Tiberias to the Dead Sea, which has emerged as a hotspot in the struggle for the West Bank.

The Jordan Valley is home to some 60,000 Palestinians, according to the United Nations, but nearly 90 percent of its land is part of what is known as Area C, three-fifths of the West Bank which is under complete Israeli control.

It includes a closed military area and about 50 agricultural settlements that house about 12,000 Israelis.

Foreclosure of property

Palestinians are prohibited from these areas and from the land they own. They are prohibited from digging wells or building any infrastructure without military permits which are hard to come by.

From 2009 to 2016, less than 2 percent of the more than 3,300 permit applications in Area C were successful, according to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group, citing official statistics.

Anything built without a permit, from house expansion to tents, animal pens and irrigation networks, is at risk of being dismantled by the Israeli military.

Israeli machines destroyed a Palestinian house located in area C near Yatta in the southern West Bank city of Hebron last November. [File: Hazen Bader/AFP]

Nearly 800 Palestinians, including 404 minors, have lost their homes in 2020.

Over the previous year, 677 lost their homes – up from 387 in 2018 and 521 in 2017.

On Friday, the UN envoy to the region, Tor Wennesland from Norway, also raised concerns about demolition and land confiscation.

He said Israeli security forces had “destroyed or confiscated 80 buildings” in the Bedouin community “in the Israeli declared firing zone in the Jordan Valley”.

He said the actions had “displaced 63 people, including 36 children several times, and followed similar demolitions in November 2020”.

“I urge Israel to stop the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to allow Palestinians to develop their communities,” he said.


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Germany ordered the Israeli Trophy active protection system for its Leopard 2 tanks | Instant News

COLOGNE, Germany – The German and Israeli defense ministries have signed an agreement to purchase Rafael’s Trophy active protection system for Bundeswehr Leopard 2 tanks, the two governments announced on February 23.

The deal, signed February 22, will see defense systems, which fire projectiles at incoming anti-tank munitions, be installed on company tanks by 2025; That translates to 17 operational vehicles plus one reference type for testing.

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is the contractor to install Trophy components on the tank in order to upgrade from the A6-A3 configuration to the A7-A1 version, according to a memo to the German parliament by defense officials in late January asking for funding. for the project.

The letter was approved by lawmakers at the time, paving the way for an agreement with Israel and Rafael’s manufacturer. The 23 Trophy sets and 586 interceptors wanted by the Germans came for $ 48 million. Leopard-Maker KMW stands to roughly double that for integration work, which will make the government with 18 hull tanks unnecessary after the upgrade.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the Trophy system “Israel’s breakthrough defense industry product,” with a German nod representing “an expression of confidence” in the two countries’ defense cooperation.

The Bundeswehr, or German military, decided to equip its tanks with an active protection system because “modern anti-tank missiles pose a significant threat,” the defense official wrote to lawmakers. The current effort to introduce the Trophy is intended as a “first step” towards wider use of similar technology, the memo said.

German defense officials consider the Trophy, which is already used on Israeli and American tanks, the most advanced and operationally proven system available on the market, they told lawmakers.


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Inside the race to create a Covid passport and change the journey as we know it | Instant News

A paper vaccine certificate is probably a thing of the past. Getty Images Armand Arton has long prophesied the death of the passport in the form of a paper booklet that we take with us. But its demise is likely to happen sooner, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, he says, as the race to create the world’s first vaccine passport begins. Iceland and Poland started issuing Covid-19 vaccine certificates last month. Denmark, Sweden and Estonia are on their heels, and Israel’s “green pass” will allow its holders to visit gyms and bars. The European race to develop a credible vaccine passport is intensifying, led by Greece. “We call them certificates and not passports,” says Alex Patelis, chief economic adviser to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who called for a European certificate for people vaccinated against Covid-19. “For countries like Greece, which depend on tourism, it is imperative that this issue be resolved before the summer season,” Mitsotakis wrote in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The country is in desperate need of tourists: One-fifth of the country’s GDP comes from tourism, and its economy contracted 11.6% last year after a particularly slow summer season. Greece’s draft vaccination certificate shows what that could look like. A digital QR code can be scanned every time a person enters the country by air, sea or rail, which is tested in a trial with Cyprus and Israel. An agreement between the three countries could allow certificate holders to move freely between them and the UK could be next, according to Haris Theoharis, Greece’s tourism minister. How would a vaccine certificate work? The Greek authorities are quick to point out that it would not be “an obligation” for travelers to have one. On the contrary, anyone entering Greece with a vaccine certificate could bypass all the usual procedures required of unvaccinated travelers, such as quarantine, showing negative PCR tests or filling out passenger tracking forms. “Greece is working on a number of bilateral agreements with third countries to allow mutual recognition of vaccination certificates”, explains Patelis. “Ultimately, certificates need some sort of unique QR code,” Vlychos Beach in Hydra, Greece, during a normal summer season. getty But behind the humble QR code are a myriad of issues that need to be addressed first, according to the Royal Society. She highlighted 12 in an article published last week. “International standardization is one of the criteria that we consider essential,” says Professor Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Center for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford and lead author of the report. Safety is another. “You need a really rigorous and robust verification system,” says David Hollick, CEO of Logifect, one of eight companies that received UK government grants to work on a digital immunity document. “Anyone can fake Israel’s vaccination certificate,” Haaretz headlines recently, after loopholes were found in its green card program. Apple has removed dozens of questionable apps offering Covid-19 vaccine certificates from its App Store. Greek authorities are concerned after a bad experience with fake passenger tracking forms and PCR test results. Any vaccine certificate must also be dynamic. “Let’s say a variant comes in and you find that the vaccine starts to wane,” says Hollik. “You need to find a quick way to secure real-time ways to delete a passport, revoke a passport or reissue a passport.” Then there is the race itself. A growing number of companies and countries are offering their own versions of vaccination certificates. But if organizations like the World Health Organization, the European Union and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) do not quickly agree on a common set of frameworks, the result could be “a complex confusion of incompatible bilateral certificate structures, ”says Andrew Bud, founder and CEO of iProov, which, together with Mvine, is testing a vaccine certificate in the UK. However, for the company or country ripping up the Covid vaccine certificate, the rewards could be huge. They will change the way we travel, not just this year, but far into the future. Vaccine passports could change travel for good “My prediction is that over the next 20 years we will see more innovation and transformation of the passport as a document than ever before,” says Arton. His firm, Arton Capital, advises families and individuals around the world on citizenship and global mobility. In the same way that the need for a Covid-19 vaccine has energized the science behind the science of vaccination, the race for its certification is pushing the boundaries of identification technologies. The biometrics and cloud technology that a vaccine certificate would use are exactly the technologies required for passport-less travel. And just like record numbers receiving these new vaccines, there could also be a whole new appetite for identification technologies, says Arton: “People in general may be more sensitive to the idea that is already underway. ” Armand Arton, founder and chairman of Arton Capital. Getty Images for Concordia Summit Multilateral organizations such as the United Nations ICAO and IATA are already planning an era of passportless travel. This is, after all, a perfectly logical scenario, says Bud: “Why take your passport with you when it’s kept safe in the cloud? If someone steals it or you drop it in the toilet, you just lost your credentials. ” With any vaccine certificate that could use both cloud technology and biometrics, international travel in 2021 could be a giant experience for passport-less travel. Tech companies will be watching closely, with the potential for huge contracts when the world is cleared to travel again. “It’s pretty important,” Bud says. “The evolution of vaccination certificates will actually drive the whole field of digital identity in the future. So therefore, it’s not just about Covid, it’s about something. ‘even bigger. ” .

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