Israel said Friday it will transfer around 1 million doses of soon-to-expire coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar number of doses the Palestinians expect to receive later this year.
Israel, which has reopened after vaccinating some 85% of its adult population, has faced criticism for not sharing its vaccines with the 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
The agreement was announced by the new Israeli government that was sworn in on Sunday. It said it would transfer Pfizer vaccines that will expire soon, and that the PA would reimburse it with a similar number of vaccines when it receives them from the pharmaceutical company In September or October.
There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority.
Israel has carried out one of the most successful vaccination programs in the world, allowing it to fully reopen businesses and schools. This week, authorities lifted the requirement to wear masks in public, one of the last remaining restrictions.
Rights groups have said that Israel, as an occupying power, is obliged to provide vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel denies having such an obligation, pointing to interim peace agreements reached with the Palestinians in the 1990s.
Those agreements say the PA, which has limited autonomy in parts of the occupied West Bank, is responsible for health care but that the two sides should cooperate to combat pandemics. Israel has offered vaccines to the more than 100,000 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank who work inside Israel, as well as Palestinians in east Jerusalem.
Gaza is ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and Western countries. Israeli officials have suggested linking any supply of vaccines to Gaza to the return of two Israeli captives and the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.
The PA has said it is acquiring its own supplies through agreements with private companies and a World Health Organization program designed to aid needy countries. It was not immediately clear whether the expected Pfizer doses are being supplied through that program, known as COVAX, or a private arrangement.
To date, around 380,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and around 50,000 in Gaza have been vaccinated. More than 300,000 infections have been recorded in the two territories, including 3,545 deaths.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want a state in all three territories. There have been no substantive peace talks in more than a decade.
Iran hits record for new COVID-19 cases for second day running
Explainer: US pays $4 bln to Afghan forces; Who is watching?
Mac Neil wins Canada’s first gold in Tokyo Games first in women’s 100 butterfly
Tunisian president relieves prime minister of his post, freeze parliament
Algeria reimposes restrictions on gatherings to stem COVID-19 cases
Asia7 days ago
India’s COVID-19 excess deaths surpass four million: research
Latin America7 days ago
Haiti arrests 3 cops, awaits new chief, while mourning Moise
Asia5 days ago
Man with coronavirus disguises as wife on Indonesian flight
U.S7 days ago
Extreme weather fuels Oregon wildfires; outside help sought
Europe5 days ago
Norway mourns 77 dead a decade after extremist attack
Middle East5 days ago
Israel to reimpose COVID-19 ‘Green Pass’ as Delta variant hits
Australia & NZ4 days ago
Sydney COVID-19 outbreak a ‘national emergency’ as cases spike
Health5 days ago
Europe Could Have Been Hit With COVID-19 Earlier Than China, New Study Reveals