The controversial plan of using COVID-19 vaccines for winning allies abroad before administering them to Palestinians has been suspended by Israel. This was because of legal challenges linked to the initiative. On Friday, Israel’s health minister disclosed that one vaccination dose has been administered to half of the country’s citizens, which is currently the highest figure in the world. Since his country is now looking at a future beyond coronavirus restrictions, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, ordered tens of thousands of COVID vaccines to be sent to nations in Latin America, Europe and Africa, as a diplomatic gesture.
This plan highlights how coronavirus vaccines are being considered a valuable bargaining chip when it comes to international negotiation. However, this announcement was condemned widely because majority of the Palestinians are being forced to wait for the vaccines. Opponents within the fragile coalition government of Netanyahu also criticized this initiative fiercely. The defense minister of Israel, Benny Gantz directed accusations at the Prime Minister and said that he had gone behind his Cabinet and made the decision without consulting them. The attorney general of Israel announced a review on Thursday for looking into whether the Prime Minister has the legal authority for making the decision himself.
A spokesman stated that the attorney general was looking into the claim that COVID-19 vaccines had been transferred without authority to foreign countries. Therefore, any action on vaccine shipments had been stopped by the government. Gantz was in favor of this freeze. He said that the move had been undemocratic and procedures had been bypassed. He went on to say that if vaccines had to be transferred to various countries at the expense of Israel’s citizens, then it needed to be decided by the appropriate forums. On Friday, Netanyahu said that he had had discussions with 30 countries about sharing the vaccine doses and he had also ensured that Israelis wouldn’t be affected by the giveaways.
He went on to say that everyone wanted to know how they had managed to accomplish this goal and they required assistance and knowledge to do the same. While the countries that would be receiving the vaccines were not revealed, Israeli media disclosed that Netanyahu had been planning to send 100,000 doses of the vaccines to more than a dozen countries. These include some nations that are already Israel’s allies and a few others it is trying to woo. Honduras and Guatemala have already received batches of 5,000 doses.
The two countries have also agreed to follow the lead of former US President Donald Trump and move their embassies to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, which is a small yet an important diplomatic victory for the Prime Minister. Russia, China and India are also engaging in vaccine diplomacy, as they are sending doses to friendly countries and have even prioritized it above their own citizens. But, while Israel has shipped doses to other parts of the world, most of the Palestinians are still waiting to get vaccinated against the disease.