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Israeli PM Tests COVID Positive After “Unmasked” Talks With US Secretary of State

Mr Bennett also visited the town of Hadera in northern Israel on Sunday

Jerusalem:

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tested positive for Covid-19, his office said on Monday, after he met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Mr Bennett, who met Mr Blinken in Jerusalem on Sunday on the sidelines of a “historic summit” of Israeli and Arab diplomats, “is feeling well and will continue his schedule as planned from his home,” a statement from his office said.

Also on Sunday, Mr Bennett visited the town of Hadera in northern Israel after gunmen shot dead two police officers in an alleged attack by Islamic State militants.

Police said the two gunmen – Israeli Arabs identified by Israeli intelligence as local IS cooperatives – were killed by anti -terrorism officers who happened to be nearby.

Mr Bennett’s office said on Monday the prime minister “will conduct an assessment of the situation following last night’s attack with” defense, public security, chief of staff and other officials.

Pictures published by Israeli media after his visit to Hadera, where he was also briefed by police about the attack, showed him wearing a face mask.

But the prime minister did not wear a face mask during a joint press conference with Mr Blinken on Sunday.

The top US diplomat is in Israel to attend important talks with officials from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco – countries that will normalize relations with the Jewish state by 2020.

His counterpart from Egypt will also join the group that will meet on Monday in the Negev desert.

The talks were made amid growing regional concerns about a deal Washington could reach with Iran soon to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Israel and most of the Gulf Arab states are skeptical of the revived agreement with Tehran, which the Jewish state considers a threat to its very existence.

The Negev meeting also came as the United States and European allies quietly expressed frustration that Middle Eastern countries generally did not show solid support for efforts to support Ukraine following the Russian invasion or distance from Moscow.

On Sunday afternoon, after meeting Bennett, Blinken traveled to the Israeli -occupied West Bank to hold talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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