Report: Three Countries Said to Ask Israel for Vaccines Rejected by Palestinians

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Three countries have reached out to Israel to obtain one million vaccines rejected by the Palestinians, the Haaretz daily reported Sunday.

The news came as the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said it hoped to renegotiate the terms of the deal struck with Israel.

According to Haaretz, Israel was in touch with the countries about 100,000 doses that were sent to the PA and set to expire in July.

On Friday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called off an agreement under which Israel would transfer one million doses of coronavirus vaccines to it, citing the close expiration date of the Pfizer vials, despite the Israel Health Ministry’s insistence the vaccines were “perfectly sound” and identical to those administered to Israelis.

Israel immediately transferred the first batch of doses to the PA which were set to expire at the beginning of July in exchange for a similar number of doses the Palestinians are expected to receive later this year from Pfizer.

Earlier this year, the Palestinians falsely claimed Israel was preventing the Palestinians from accessing coronavirus vaccines, in what was slammed by Israel’s envoy to the UN as a “grotesque blood libel.”

Hours after signing the agreement to receive the vaccines, the PA backtracked and said the doses were too close to expiring and did not meet their standards.

“We won’t use them, and they will be returned [to Israel],” said PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila at a press conference.

The Health Ministry in Jerusalem reacted with surprise at the move, saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were “perfectly sound” and “identical in every way to the vaccines currently being given to citizens of  Israel.” The ministry added that the Palestinians were aware of the expiration date prior to the deal.

The PA Health Ministry on Sunday said it was now renegotiating to receive Pfizer vaccines from Israel that had a later expiration date.

According to date released by the PA Health Ministry, only 11 percent of Palestinians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, amounting to 450,000 Palestinians. That figure includes more than 100,000 Palestinian workers under employ in Israel who were vaccinated by the Jewish state.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group described the deal as “humiliating” and claimed it “could have harmed human life.”

Israel conducted the world’s most successful vaccination drive, with more than 80 percent of its adult population having received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, is struggling to vaccinate its population.

It had claimed the onus to vaccinate its population lay with Israel, however, according to the Oslo Accords, the responsibility to do so lies directly with the Palestinians.

It also never formally requested Israel’s help in vaccinating its people and had informed Israel that it intends to purchase vaccines from the Russian government –  a move Israel said it would help facilitate.

Israel last week ditched the requirement to wear masks indoors – the last of its coronavirus regulations.

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