Netanyahu warns EU leaders of 'accordion effect' from reopening economy

PM participates in video conference with leaders of European nations on handling of coronavirus crisis.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

PM Netanyahu participates in video conference
PM Netanyahu participates in video conference
Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today participated in a conference of the leaders of the countries at the forefront of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, hosted by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

The leaders sought to learn from the Israeli model for dealing with outbreak zones, “red zones” (restricted areas), in order to allow for the continuation of routines in other areas where infection is minimal.

Following their 24 April conference, the leaders met again this morning in order to discuss steps for returning to a safe routine in the shadow of the coronavirus and the preparations for the possibility of a second outbreak. The leaders exchanged ideas and courses of action, and discussed information and monitoring tools, dealing with at-risk populations and the operating of education systems. The leaders also discussed ways that would allow for the safe return of the tourism and aviation industries to activity.

Among the leaders participating in the conference, which was hosted by Austria Chancellor Kurz, in addition to Prime Minister Netanyahu, were Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Prime Minister Netanyahu presented the courses of action and main dilemmas in the Israeli exit strategy as well as the necessary preparations for a second outbreak of the pandemic in Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu presented the Israeli policy regarding red zones, at the request of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and Australian Prime Minister Morrison, who sought to learn from Israel regarding a solution.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “We isolated the clusters and treated them separately. We sent in the army into these areas. The army gave them food and assistance and so on until we brought it down to a reasonable level. Then we opened it up. We took them out. We took out the infected people from the homes and we took them to hotels. The question is ‘Can you have a localized policy as opposed to a national shutdown?’ The answer is absolutely. This is our experience and it’s actually a very successful one.”

Austrian Chancellor Kurz updated on the details of a meeting he held recently on the issue of production, research and development, with the participation of the countries’ representatives. The representatives of each country presented their country’s industries and research institutes, which are active in the struggle against the coronavirus, in order to promote mutual cooperation.

Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg and Czech Prime Minister Babis presented their countries’ comprehensive monitoring programs, which include digital monitoring, in order to locate chains of infection and prevent the virus from spreading.

The leaders agreed that the Israeli cyber directorate would lead consultations among the participating countries on the issue of databases, without infringing on privacy. It was agreed that tourism ministers would hold designated meetings – led by Greece – on tourism and aviation. It was also agreed that Denmark would lead consultations on reopening schools.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s said at the conference: “None of us know what happens when we open up our economies and open up the schools and especially the young kids who cannot practice any separation and they’ll infect one another. We have to be ready for an accordion effect. We open up the economy and then we have to be prepared to shut down."

"So what we have done, you may have done the same, is publicize for the population when do we go back and we made very clear guidelines and parameters. We told the people under what conditions do we contract the accordion back based on such and such infections per day, such and such doubling rates and such and such serious cases.

"My last point is on travel. Hi-tech is a very big part of our economy. Two days ago, a company was sold here for a billion dollars in an investment that took place with Zoom technology. People invested a billion dollars in a hi-tech company in Jerusalem with Zoom technology. I don’t think this is a solution because I think people want to travel and talk to each other and get to know each other.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel would be pleased to enter into safe flight agreements and emphasized the need to resume flights to the US.