I Love Israel: Direct Philippines-Israel flights before the end of 2021 in the works

Have you been dreaming of visiting the Holy Land or doing business in Tel Aviv in Israel? There is something positive in development right now and breakthroughs could happen before the year ends. This is because recently, Israel’s Ambassador Rafael Harpaz announced that the establishment of direct flights between the Philippines and Israel is being worked on with 2021 in mind (specifically before the end of the year). There is no timeline yet as to when will Philippines-Israel travel will resume but make no mistake that Israel is opening its borders to foreign tourists (who got vaccinated for COVID-19) starting May 23, 2021 which itself is connected with their successful vaccination program.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article. Some parts in bold…

Direct flights between the Philippines and Israel before the end of the year are in the pipeline, Israeli Ambassador to Manila Rafael Harpaz said Friday.

We would like very much for the Filipino tourists to be back to Israel. The Philippine Airlines already informed us that they are planning to start a direct flight to Israel towards the end of the year,” Harpaz told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

There’s no timeline yet when tourism exchanges between the Philippines and Israel would resume, but he said the deployment of Filipino caregivers continues despite the pandemic.

“Actually, every day we see new caregivers because there is a demand. So they are flying to Israel and when they get there, they also get the vaccine immediately,” Harpaz said. “We don’t have a quota (on deployment) but it depends on the demand. Because our population is getting older and older, the demand is getting high. We also have from other countries but the demand is high for Filipino caregivers.”

In 2019 alone, about 35,000 Filipino tourists visited Israel, while more than 30,000 overseas Filipinos are working there as caregivers.

‘Tourism restart’

At present, there is no agreement between the Philippines and Israel for a travel bubble setup, but Harpaz said he is hopeful that the two nations’ tourism exchanges would soon resume.

He added that several Filipino tour operators are interested to bring travel groups once Israel fully reopens.

“They’re waiting. There’s so many tour operators in the Philippines who are eager to take groups to Israel because it’s a big tourist destination for Filipinos,” Harpaz said. “The Israelis are also eager. The businessmen are eager to return to the Philippines. They want to go to Banawe, Palawan, Siquijor, and all those wonderful places. Let’s hope that it will soon work out.”

Israel is opening up its borders to foreign tourists under a travel bubble setup, with the vaccinated population no longer required to undergo a long period of quarantine.

But for now, the vaccines that Israel recognizes for this arrangement are Pfizer and Moderna.

It has so far signed a travel bubble agreement with Cyprus and Greece.

“We are moving slowly with more countries because we want to have tourism back and business back,” he said.

As you already know, I strongly believe that the ties between my native Philippines and Israel are very essential. I really love it when Israelites and Filipinos are in harmony together, and the fact that Filipino caregivers and students were vaccinated for free in Israel is an example of that. Filipino caregivers have been known to be very helpful towards Israelites and there is a strong demand for more caregivers. Christians here in the Philippines, led by faith, love to visit the Holy Land and discover personally the places where Lord Jesus had been to.

Speaking of Philippines-Israel ties, Ambassador Harpaz also announced more good news for Filipinos struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Posted below is an excerpt from another Philippine News Agency article…

The Philippines can expect to be among the priority countries of Israel once the latter is able to transfer its excess vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Israel Ambassador to Manila Rafael Harpaz said Friday.

Harpaz explained that Israel, for the time being, could not transport its extra vaccine doses to any third country due to some legal issues in its contract with Pfizer.

“It has nothing to do with the Philippines. Israel, for the time being, was not able to give vaccines to a third country because we have a contract and there are limitations on giving it to a third party,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview on Friday.

Aside from Manila, more than 10 countries have also expressed interest in purchasing their excess vaccines, Harpaz said.

“It’s something we are looking generally in a favorable manner but it’s the legal issues that must be resolved first. But it’s one of the issues in the discussions and when the moment that there would be a green light to give (the vaccines) as assistance to third countries, the Philippines will certainly be among them,” he said.

The Philippines is definitely a high priority for us once we’re capable of giving away the vaccines.

Wow! Considering the current situation here in the Philippines, it’s nice to learn that our country is a high priority for Israel for potential donations of excess vaccines from their own stocks. The legal issues are blocking access. To be very clear, the Philippines secured many millions of COVID-19 vaccines but those stocks cannot come fast enough. Very recently, the cities of Muntinlupa and Parañaque became the first recipients of vaccines from Russia. How many exactly? THREE THOUSAND doses for each city.

In closing this, here are some Israel-related videos for your viewing pleasure and for your insight.

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