July 30, 2021

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Palestinian Authority Calls off Israel Vaccine Exchange

3 min read

According to an announcement by the Palestinian Authority, they have canceled an agreement made with Israel regarding the exchange of Pfizer vaccines, stating that the doses are near their expiration date. After the announcement of the agreement with Israel, heavy criticism had been directed towards the Palestinian officials on social media. They were accused by many of accepting subpar vaccines and it was even suggested that the vaccines may not be effective. Ibrahim Melhem, the PA spokesman said on Friday that the technical teams belonging to the ministry of health had examined the first batch of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccines that had come in from Israel. 

The examination showed that the 90,000 doses that they had received were not in accordance with the specifications of the agreement. He said that the minister of health had been instructed by the Prime Minister, Muhammad Shtayyeh, to cancel the agreement of exchanging vaccines with Israel and also return the quantity that had already been received. Earlier on Friday, it was announced by Israel that they would be transferring around 1 million doses of the Pfizer coronaviruses vaccines to the PA that are soon-to-expire in exchange for the same number of fresh doses that will come to Palestine later in the year.

As per the statement made by the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, the agreement with the Palestinian Authority would have Israel supply one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that are near expiry. It also highlighted that in September or October 2021, they would exchange around 1.4 million doses of the same. The statement did not disclose the exact expiration date, but the Israeli military body responsible for civilian affairs in occupied Palestinian regions, COGAT said that 100,000 doses had already been transferred. 

In an earlier statement, the Palestinian health ministry said that Pfizer was working on accelerating the vaccination campaign. The exchange agreement was made after Israel was urged to ensure that Palestinians also had access to the vaccine, as it is inoculating its own people at top speed. Almost 55% of the population in Israel has already been vaccinated, prompting the country to reopen fully. However, it has received a great deal of criticism for not sharing the vaccines with approximately 4.5 million people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. 

According to right groups, since Israel is an occupying power, it is under obligation to provide Palestinians with vaccines. But, Israel has denied any such obligation and highlighted the peace agreement it had made in the 1990s with the Palestinians. All across the globe, there have been disparities in accessing coronavirus vaccinations, as wealthy countries have received the bulk of them. With those countries making progress in controlling their own outbreaks, they are now pledging supplies for their poorer counterparts that were left behind. The dose-sharing deal had been criticized by Physicians for Human Rights Israel, as they said that the PA wouldn’t be able to use all the doses because they were near expiry. 

The Palestinian health ministry has stated that around 270,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have received two doses of the vaccine.

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