Wed, 03 Mar 2021

JERUSALEM, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suspended a visa-exemption deal with Israel, citing COVID-19 fears, Israel's foreign ministry said on Monday.

UAE's foreign ministry has notified the Israeli foreign ministry that the implementation of the agreement was postponed until July 1, 2021, "in the wake of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus," Israel's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement.

The postponement was made in accordance with a section of the agreement which says that both parties may suspend the implementation of the deal for reasons of public health fears, according to Haiat.

The ministry said that the UAE has made a similar move to restrict arrivals from other countries, including India, Pakistan, and some European countries.

According to the Israeli foreign ministry, the visa waivers were supposed to take effect by Feb. 13. They were a key part of the Israeli-UAE normalization deal signed in Sept. 15, 2020.

The announcement came a day after Israel's cabinet decided to require all arrivals from the Gulf country to stay in quarantine in a "coronavirus motel" run by the military for a period of 10-14 days.

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