Israel transfers one million vaccine doses to the Palestinians

The move means Palestinian residents will receive jabs earlier than previously expected


Israel has begun the process of transferring one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Palestinians.

The doses, which are all due to expire soon, are being delivered under a deal that will see the Palestinian Authority give Israel a reciprocal number of doses from one of its own shipments due to arrive later this year.

Negotiations between the Israeli government and PA that led to the exchange took place over several weeks, and today the first batch of 100,000 vaccines were handed over. 

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “The plan was approved based on the fact that Israel’s current vaccine stockpile is sufficient for its current needs.”

The transfer comes as Israel faces mounting criticism from human rights groups over its handling of the Palestinian vaccination effort. 

However, leaders of the Jewish state claim that under the Oslo Accords, Palestinians are responsible for matters concerning immunisation in the West Bank.

Posting to Twitter, Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz commented: “The coronavirus does not recognize borders or differences between peoples. 

“This important move to swap vaccines is in all of our interests. I hope this move will lead to further cooperation between Israel and our Palestinian neighbours in other fields.”

According to PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila, during negotiations Israel demanded that no vaccines should go to the Gaza strip and that any new contract should not be signed by the State of Palestine. 

However, Palestinian officials refused both demands and signed a separate contract alone with Pfizer. 

Figures from the PA health ministry show that as of this week, 436,275 Palestinians had received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, while 260,000 have had both.

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