Binyamin Netanyahu, Nicos Anastasiades
Binyamin Netanyahu, Nicos AnastasiadesKobi Gideon/GPO

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has postponed a planned visit to Jerusalem next Tuesday because of concerns over the worsening coronavirus situation in Israel, officials said, according to AFP.

Anastasiades had been due to hold high-level discussions on energy, tourism and defense but both sides agreed to postpone them until a later date.

Cyprus government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos said Anastasiades spoke to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday and they agreed to reschedule in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"During the discussion, it was agreed that in view of the developments regarding the coronavirus pandemic in Israel, it is appropriate, under the circumstances, to postpone the visit of the president to Israel on June 23," Koushos said in a written statement.

"It was further agreed, as soon as conditions allow, to set a new date for the visit to Israel as soon as possible."

Anastasiades would have been just the second foreign leader to visit since the coronavirus prompted Israel to close its borders in early March.

It would have also been the Cypriot leader's first foreign trip since the outbreak in March.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his ministers visited Israel earlier this week to discuss the same issues, including the planned EastMed gas pipeline.

Israel and Cyprus have traditionally had friendly relations over the years. Cyprus was the first country to officially declare it would not cooperate with efforts by various anti-Israel movements and countries to send flotillas to violate Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

In May, Israel saw the number of new daily coronavirus cases drop to only a few dozen but has since seen a spike in COVID-19 infections.

On Friday, Israel's Health Ministry announced that 349 new coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Israel.

This is the first time since April that the number of new cases has topped 300. Since Sunday, a total of 1,256 new coronavirus cases have been diagnosed, for a total of 3,171 new cases since the beginning of June.

Israelis had already begun to return to Cyprus earlier this month, becoming the first tourists to visit the island as it reopened its airports on June 9 to countries with relatively low infection rates.

However, on June 11, Cyprus relegated Israel from its low risk category, meaning that Israelis wishing to visit will need to carry a special certificate of health to prove they are COVID-19 negative.

Cyprus has tallied a total of 985 cases and 19 deaths and is looking to jump-start its battered tourism sector.

In recent years, Israelis have made up the third largest group of tourists to Cyprus after Britain and Russia, two countries considered high-risk whose holidaymakers remain barred.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)