Israel has said it will transfer about 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to expire soon to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar number of fresh doses that Palestinians expect to receive later this year.
“Israel has signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, and is supplying about one million doses of Pfizer vaccine that are about to expire,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said Friday in a joint statement with US ministers. defense and health.
Up to 1.4 million doses could be exchanged in September / October 2021, the statement added.
The statement did not give the exact expiration date of the vaccine, but COGAT, the Israeli military corps that administers civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, said Friday that it had already “transferred 100,000 doses of vaccine.”
“This agreement was made possible after it was noted that the stock of vaccines that Israel has in place meets its current needs,” it said in a statement.
The Palestinian health ministry said in a statement that Pfizer was behind an initiative to “accelerate the vaccination campaign.”
The move comes after Israel was ordered to do more to ensure Palestinians ’access to vaccinations since it inoculated its own citizens at first-world speed.
Israel, which has fully reopened after vaccinating about 55 percent of its population, has faced criticism for not sharing its vaccines with the 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Rights groups have said Israel, as an occupying power, is required to provide vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel denies having such an obligation, pointing to interim peace agreements concluded with the Palestinians in the 1990s.
Disparities in access to vaccines have spread across the globe as most of the vaccines have gone to rich countries. As those countries have made progress in containing their own outbreaks, they have recently begun to promise provisions for the poorest countries that have been left behind for months.
Criticizing the dose-sharing agreement, Israeli Human Rights Doctors said on Twitter: “It is very doubtful that the AP will be able to use all the vaccines, which are on the verge of expiring.”
Other Palestinians have also criticized the move.
6 months after the start of Israel’s vaccination efforts, when approaching 85% vaccination, this announcement is not only late, but not as charitable as it sounds. These are soon vaccines that Israel does not need, and they will get this same amount from the PA in the fall. (1/3) https://t.co/x9IdNu6JU4
– Yara Asi (@Yara_M_Asi) June 18, 2021
Yara Asi, a colleague who is not a resident of the Arab Center in Washington, DC, said the announcement was not “charitable as posed.”
“It does not address any of the main issues that prevent Palestinians from having a functioning health care system,” he wrote on Twitter.
“You’re this new governor [government] it wants to show that it is truly different, and it wants to “benefit the people,” dismantle the occupation, lift the blockade, give the Palestinians equal rights, ”he said.
Typical bad faith political communications, trying to appear as savior-peacenik by telling half the facts! The agreement is entirely in Israel’s interest: the transfer of doses that have expired and that are not needed and in return receive new ones – originally intended for the PA – in October. https://t.co/80aNXE012a
– Inès Abdel Razek (@InesAbdelrazek) June 18, 2021
30% of Palestinians received the first dose
On the Palestinian side, just over 270,000 people have received two doses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health minister.
More than 300,000 infections have been recorded in the two territories, including 3,545 deaths.
About 30 percent of eligible Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, home to 5.2 million people, have received at least one dose of vaccination, according to Palestinian officials.
According to a survey published Tuesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Surveys, 40 percent of Palestinians are willing to take the vaccine once it is available, while 35 percent say they and their families do not. they are not willing to be vaccinated.
Palestinians have received doses of vaccine from Israel, Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates and the global COVAX vaccine sharing initiative.