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Israel backing push for probe of world virus response, origin

The Israel Foreign Ministry says it will back a push for an independent evaluation of the World Health Organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that will probe the origins of the novel coronavirus.

The EU motion, which has been condemned by China, has the support of more than half of WHO’s member countries and will be discussed this week at the decision-making body of the UN health agency, which is being held virtually this year.

The proposal is intended to initiate “a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of WHO’s efforts to coordinate the international response to COVID-19, including the functioning of international health law and its actions within the greater UN health system.

Australia has been seen as a leader in rallying global support for an inquiry including a probe of the origins of the virus, attracting Chinese criticism that it is parroting the United States and inviting a Chinese boycott of exports and services.

The US has accused China of creating the virus in a lab and attempting to cover it up, as well as failing to warn the world about the disease.

Opening the World Health Assembly, UN Chief Antonio Guterres says the world is paying a “heavy price” for the lack of consistent strategies against the virus, calling out countries that dragged their feet or ignored health guidelines.

Original: TOI — with AP and Raphael Ahren