NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s visit to Israel is one of several trips that will not go ahead due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Amid the uncertainty created by the crisis, the Israeli government announced on Monday that it is implementing a 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals from any country while the Ministry of Health has issued guidelines that forbid the convening of international conferences.
Berejiklian was to visit this month as a guest of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD), however JBOD president Lesli Berger said he supported her decision to postpone.
“Her chief of staff impressed on me that the premier is committed to rescheduling the trip and that this is not a cancellation,” Berger told The AJN.
Two United Israel Appeal (UIA) missions – a major donors mission and a public Yom Ha’atzmaut mission – also won’t go ahead as planned. The missions were scheduled to coincide with Keren Hayesod (KH)’s annual conference and centennial celebrations in Jerusalem in April, which have also been postponed.
A letter sent to international attendees on Monday said that KH had “no choice” in light of the latest Ministry of Health guidelines and out of concern for participants’ wellbeing.
“The hope is that the KH centennial celebrations will be rescheduled for later this year,” the letter read.
UIA CEO Yair Miller said postponing the Australian missions “was a very difficult and uneasy decision to have to make, but it was the only option available to us in the circumstances”.
“We sincerely hope we’ll be able to resume our regular missions and programs as soon as possible,” he said.
JNF Australia’s upcoming JNFuture mission has also been affected. “In light of general travel uncertainties due to the coronavirus and the particular restrictions placed on travellers to Israel, we have postponed the JNFuture mission from May till December,” JNF CEO Dan Springer said.
“Other JNF missions planned for November and December are still in the schedule but will continue to be reviewed as the situation evolves.”
148 young Australian Jews took part in Taglit-Birthright trips between December and February, just before all trips were cancelled in March.
The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), which coordinates the trips locally, said the organisation had not received any information regarding the trips planned for July, which at this stage are still scheduled to go ahead.
“We are monitoring the situation carefully as things unfold,” the ZFA said.