The BBC was among a wave of mainstream international media outlets that last month took Israel to task for not including the Palestinian Arabs in its successful COVID-19 vaccination drive.
According to the world press, not only was this alleged snubbing morally wrong, it was a violation of signed peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
As has become par for the course in mainstream international media reporting on Israel, accusations were hurled based solely on the rantings of key Palestinian figures without bothering to check the facts.
Last week, the BBC admitted that it was wrong, and that under the so-called “Oslo Accords” Israel is not responsible for the medical care of the Palestinians because the Palestinians insisted on going it alone.
A correction to a January 16 broadcast by the BBC read:
“We suggested that under the Oslo Accords, Palestinian healthcare is ultimately the responsibility of the Israeli government.
“Although there is a wider dispute over the issue, the Accords – which Israel signed with the Palestine Liberation Organisation – give the Palestinian Authority oversight of public health under the principles of self-determination.”
One must also consider that Israel’s success in procuring so many vaccine doses when other countries (including those where the vaccines were produced) are struggling to put their hands on enough vials is due to Israel agreeing to share detailed medical data related to the vaccination drive with Pfizer. Giving away millions of doses to the Palestinians would make it impossible for Israel to fulfill its contractual obligations to the drugmaker.
Of course, there is a moral aspect to the story, as well as the fact that it’s very much in the interests of Israeli healthcare to vaccinate the Palestinian Arab population, especially the hundreds of thousands who work inside the Green Line.
And the fact of the matter is that Israel has been providing assistance to the Palestinians amid the Corona crisis, including donating vaccine doses. But it hasn’t been so easy to do so, and that’s on the Palestinian leadership. Last year the Palestinian Authority even rejected coronavirus aid from the United Arab Emirates because it passed through Israel.