If Israel finds a vaccine for coronavirus, boycotters can still take it, Omar Barghouti, founder of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement said on Sunday.Barghouti made the remarks in a live video on the BDS Arabic Facebook page as part of a webinar on “BDS and Anti-normalization: The most important strategies to fight against the deal of the century, even in the time of COVID-19.” The BDS founder warned that coronavirus cannot be a “honeymoon” for Israel and questioned why the Palestinian Authority hasn’t stopped security cooperation with Israel.At the same time, he said “if you use medical equipment from Israel – it’s not a problem. Cooperating with Israel against the virus – to begin with, we didn’t consider it normalization.“The BDS announced normalization criteria long ago,” Barghouti said. “If Israel finds a cure for cancer, for example, or any other virus, then there is no problem in cooperating with Israel to save millions of lives.”However, Barghouti added, “up until now, we have not been in a situation where we need Israel urgently and no one else can save us but Israel. If that will happen, saving lives is more important than anything else.”
The Facebook post inviting BDS supporters to take part in the webinar anticipated a "humanitarian disaster" in Gaza or among Palestinians in Israeli prisons due to hte spread of the coronavirus. The BDS Movement also accused Israel of "continuing to exploit Palestinian workers...without the simplest protection against the virus" and of "looting of land, arrests, oppression and killing" during the pandemic, while condemning continued normalization in "the Arab official system."
The UN, however, has repeatedly commended Israel and the Palestinian Authority for working together in combatting coronavirus, with its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs saying there has been "unprecedented cooperation on efforts aimed at containing the epidemic."
Among those efforts have been regular meetings between the sides and Israeli training programs for Palestinian medical teams, as well as donations of PPEs to Palestinians.