Thursday, March 4, 2021

Israel Gives Vaccine to Far-Off Allies, as Palestinians Wait

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The Israeli government says that the Palestinian Authority was given responsibility for organizing its own health care system in the 1990s, after the signing of the Oslo Accords that gave the Palestinian leadership limited autonomy in parts of the occupied territories.

Israel has given 2,000 vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority, and promised 3,000 more — token figures, given the size of the Palestinian population. And while Israel has hinted that more may come, it has yet to formalize any details.

“A few weeks ago there were question marks about whether we had enough vaccines for our own people,” said Mark Regev, an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Now that it appears we do, we can be more forthcoming with our neighbors.”

Mr. Regev added: “The virus won’t stop at the border and we have a very strong interest that the Palestinians can be on top of this.”

But on Tuesday evening, an Israeli security official said that the military department that coordinates between Israel and the Palestinian leadership had not yet received government authorization to deliver more vaccines to the Palestinian Authority.

In any case, human rights watchdogs say that Israel should organize a systematic vaccine program in the occupied territories, rather than sporadically deliver spares a few thousand at a time. They cite the Fourth Geneva Convention, which obliges an occupying power to coordinate with the local authorities to maintain public health within an occupied territory, including during epidemics.

The watchdog groups also note that the Israeli government not only controls all imports to the West Bank and Gaza but also, in recent submissions to the International Criminal Court, disputed Palestinian claims to sovereign statehood.



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