Israeli prime minister's family to fly overseas after he warned against international travel

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  • Naftali Bennett
    Prime Minister of Israel
  • Gilat Bennett
    Spouse of the 13th Prime Minister of Israel


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office announced on Wednesday that his wife and children would be taking a trip abroad after Bennett advised against traveling out of the country amid the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.

The Times of Israel reported that Bennett appeared to backtrack on his prior guidance after his family's trip was announced, saying he no longer advised against traveling overseas after learning more about the omicron variant.

Bennett's office did not specify where the prime minister's family would be traveling, but did disclose that the location had been changed after the original destination was designated a red zone, meaning it was barred for Israeli travel.

The Times noted that all countries currently marked in red for travel are in Africa. Local media reports have suggested that Gilat Bennett and her children were originally planning to travel to Mauritius.

Last week, Bennett said he would not recommend that people fly due to other countries due to the omicron variant.

"If someone asked me, at the moment I wouldn't recommend flying abroad right now amid a level of uncertainty like this," Bennett said Friday. "That's the truth."

"Right now, we have to show particular responsibility - we as a government and you as citizens. To stand together, to take responsibility for each other, to be careful," he said.

Israeli lawmakers quickly criticized Bennett after news of his family travel.

The Times reported that Bennett's office tried to convince Gilat Bennett not to go forward with the trip, but she rebuffed any suggestions of canceling it.

"I understand the criticism, but since Friday we've learned a lot more about the variant and in which countries it's spreading, and the cabinet made decisions about which countries it's permitted to travel to and under which conditions," Naftali Bennett wrote in a response on social media. "They are all going in accordance with the restrictions and, of course, will be in quarantine as is required."

Last week, Israel announced it would be closing its borders to all foreign travelers due to the omicron variant, becoming the first country to bar all incoming international travel.

The Hill has reached out to the Israeli Embassy for comment.

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