Palestinians Accuse Israel of “Health Apartheid”

In effort to obtain vaccine dosees, Palestinian Authority defames Israel for its “racist occupation policy”

By Baruch Yadid/TPS | | Topics: palestinians, Coronavirus, Vaccine
Pfizer vaccine for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Israel, Dec 30, 2020. Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS Photo: Kobi Richter/TPS

The Palestinian Prime Minister accuses Israel of racist policies due to the vaccination campaign it is conducting among the settler population in Judea and Samaria, while allegedly discriminating against the Palestinians.

“We condemn the racism of the occupation which prides itself on the rapid vaccination operation for its citizens while ignoring the legal responsibility to provide vaccination to the occupied people,” said Mohammad Shtayyeh at a cabinet meeting last Monday, adding that Israel’s duty to vaccinate PA residents stems from international humanitarian law, the Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations of 1907, and the International Human Rights Act.

In recent days, the media attack against Israel has intensified, and while conducting the world’s most advanced vaccination campaign, it has also prevented the distribution of vaccines to Palestinian Authority residents, according to Palestinian Authority officials.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has also tasked Israel with the responsibility for the residents of the Palestinian Authority and claims that Israel is ignoring its obligation to provide them with the vaccines. In a statement, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “Israel is trying to relieve itself of its obligation as an occupation and place the full responsibility for vaccinations on the Palestinian government. The Palestinian Authority is ready to take full responsibility in the face of deliberate negligence and indifference on the part of Israel.”

The ministry added that the PA’s efforts to provide vaccines from various sources do not absolve Israel of its responsibility to the Palestinian people in providing vaccines based on the rules of international law and praised the positions of states, institutions, MPs and legal and international bodies on Israel’s “health apartheid.”

The Authority now calls on the international community to put pressure on Israel to take responsibility for “preventing infectious diseases and epidemics” and to purchase and even distribute vaccines for the Palestinians.

Along with the pressure on Israel, there is also a well-publicized Palestinian effort designed to publicize the Palestinian leadership’s efforts to obtain vaccines around the world with the help of states, international institutions, and contracts with pharmaceutical companies.

Last Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority approved Sputnik’s Russian vaccine, in a rapid emergency procedure.

At a meeting of the Palestinian Authority government, Shtayyeh stressed that the PA had reached agreements with four companies to import vaccines and that their arrival is expected in the next two months, but did not elaborate. The Authority is now expecting the first four shipments from the companies and intends to vaccinate 70% of its residents, also in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has allocated $10.5 million to purchase the vaccines out of a total of $21 million, the total cost of all vaccines. The price of a “Sputnik V” vaccine is apparently less than $20 for the first and second doses.

The Authority is in contact with the four vaccine-producing companies, Astra Zenica, Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik, and has agreed with the World Health Organization’s COVAX program that it will be integrated into a program to transfer vaccines to underdeveloped countries.

Through this program, the Authority will receive vaccines for 20% of its population.

For now, the Palestinian Authority has not officially contacted Israel and, as far as is known, has not received any promise from Arab or other countries to assign it vaccines from those they are likely to purchase for their citizens. In the meantime, and in the absence of any available and immediate solution, the venomous criticism against Israel is growing.

The Ministry of Health in Israel says regarding the possibility of distributing vaccines to the residents of the Authority that the policy introduced by the Minister of Health states unequivocally that Israel will not transfer vaccines to other parties until all Israeli citizens who wish to do so have been vaccinated. The ministry has agreed to deliver vaccine doses to only 100 medical staff in the Palestinian Authority for humanitarian reasons. There is no intention to add to that.

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