Cyprus has joined Greece in allowing Israelis with a COVID-19 vaccination certificate to enter the country without a mandatory quarantine period.
The agreement was signed during the visit of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides to Jerusalem on Sunday.
The agreement for Cyprus to recognize Israel’s vaccination certificate and vice versa is expected to go into effect “right in the next few weeks, but it will open not far away,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following his meeting with Anastasiades.
“Cypriot tourists in Israel. Israeli tourists in Cyprus,” he said.
Netanyahu and Anastasiades also discussed cooperation on medical issues, which the prime minister said have “developed over the years. But the joint battle against the coronavirus pandemic breathed new air into this important cooperation.”
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi hailed the agreement between Israel and Cyprus to open their borders to people vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I want to praise the government of Cyprus and thank its president for recognizing our vaccination certificates, which will allow an increase in the number of vaccinated tourists from Israel [in Cyprus] within a number of weeks,” he said in his meeting with Christodoulides.
Ashkenazi said he and Christodoulides have already met four times, indicating the close relations between the countries, which will be celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations in October.
“This is an excellent relationship based on shared values, joint interests, security and stability,” Ashkenazi said.
Christodoulides cited the Abraham Accords and the establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum last year, an initiative led by Cairo and Jerusalem, as positive developments in the region.
“We will exchange ideas on how to build on those positive developments in order to build our neighborhood and the greater Middle East into a region of peace and stability,” he said.
Ashkenazi criticized the International Criminal Court’s ruling last week that it has jurisdiction to investigate Israel for war crimes alleged by the Palestinians.
“It is mistaken from a legal perspective, with very damaging diplomatic ramifications for the institution of the ICC and for our relationship with the Palestinians,” he said. “It gives a prize to Palestinian terrorism and the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to return to direct negotiations with Israel.”
“We call on countries not to allow the court to be taken advantage of for politics,” he added.
President Reuven Rivlin also discussed the ICC decision during his meeting with Anastasiades.
“We still see how some international institutions are being hijacked for political purposes,” he said. “Today, the Palestinians are using the ICC, which was established to deal with the world’s worst crimes, as a political weapon against the State of Israel. I would like to take this opportunity to call on all states to reject these efforts to involve the ICC in a political conflict.”
Nicosia has not yet stated its position on the matter, but the European Union, to which Cyprus belongs, last week said it supports the court and that it has not been politicized.
Rivlin cited trilateral cooperation with Cyprus and Greece, especially in the energy sector, as being a key component of regional stability.
“In light of this close cooperation, we must continue to work together and not let anyone undermine our regional stability,” he said. “Iran and its terrorist proxies, like Hezbollah, threaten the security not only of Israel, but of all countries in the region, and we must join together to counter these threats.”
Anastasiades thanked Rivlin, saying: “When the world is in upheaval because of corona, the warm relations between our two countries are more important than ever. I would like to express my deep appreciation for Israel’s support of Cyprus at this difficult time.”
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz met with his Cypriot counterpart, Natasha Pilides, on her first visit to Israel. They discussed the countries’ joint projects, including the Euro-Asia electric cable from Europe to Israel, natural-gas exports via the planned EastMed pipeline and the East Mediterranean Gas Forum.
The ministers also discussed the years-long dispute over the Aphrodite and Yishai gas fields, which are in both countries’ economic waters.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.