The Palestinian leadership’s claim Israel is preventing the Palestinians from accessing coronavirus vaccines is a “false and grotesque” blood libel, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. Gilad Erdan told the Security Council on Tuesday.
“I would like to shatter the latest blood libel being spread by the Palestinians – false and grotesque accusations about Israel’s campaign to vaccinate its people,” Erdan said.
His remarks came after Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki told the council Israel had not provided Palestinians with vaccines.
“The occupying power has not provided any vaccine to the Palestinian people under occupation to this day, insisting that it is under no obligation to do so,” he said.
The claim is false for four reasons: Firstly, the Palestinians have not formally requested Israel’s help in vaccinating its people. Further, as Erdan pointed out to the Security Council, under the Oslo Accords, the responsibility to do so lies with the Palestinian. The PA also “informed Israel they intend to purchase vaccines from the Russian government and Israel has announced it will facilitate their transfer,” Erdan said.
It also turned down Israeli overtures to help, and earlier in the pandemic even turned away a delivery of coronavirus medical equipment from the United Arab Emirates because it was sent via Israel.
“According to the international agreements, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the healthcare of its own population – just as it is responsible for their education system,” Erdan said.
“These are the facts,” he added.
The PA also made the same accusation at the W.H.O. Executive Board meeting on Tuesday.
Since the outbreak began in mid-March, Israel has worked closely with the U.N. to assist the Palestinians, including medical staff and supplying them with essential equipment, a fact that was lauded by newly appointed U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland.
Erdan said: “Anyone who joins the Palestinian campaign of lies either doesn’t know the facts or is motivated by politics or antisemitism.”
“There is a long history of using every crisis to spread antisemitism and blame the Jews,” he said, noting that the Palestinians accusations were made on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“I hope that on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the members of this council will check the facts and not allow this bigoted tradition to continue,” Erdan said.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan also charged Israel with being a “racist state” denying vaccinations to Palestinians like her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank.
Freshman Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York referenced Israel’s “cruelty” in failing to offer the vaccine to Palestinians.
The Guardian ran a headline that said: “Palestinians excluded from Israeli COVID vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers” without bothering to note that “settlers,” unlike Palestinians, are Israeli citizens and therefore have every right to receive vaccines – just like the 21 percent of Israel’s population that is Arab Israeli.