Israel donates COVID vaccines to Palestinian Authority, other countries

"It was decided to help with a symbolic amount of vaccines for medical staff of the Palestinian Authority and some countries that asked Israel.”

A coronavirus vaccine dose is seen being administered at a Meuhedet vaccination center in Jerusalem, on February 16, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A coronavirus vaccine dose is seen being administered at a Meuhedet vaccination center in Jerusalem, on February 16, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel gave “a limited quantity” of COVID-19 vaccines to the Palestinian Authority and a few countries, the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday.
Honduras and Guatemala, the latter of which has an embassy in Jerusalem, are among the countries that received donated vaccine doses from Israel, diplomatic sources confirmed.
The Czech Republic will also get doses of the vaccine, they said. The Czech cabinet on Tuesday authorized the opening of a diplomatic office in Jerusalem.
In light of Israel’s status as the leading country in the world at vaccinating its population against COVID-19, many countries have asked Israel for aid with their vaccine supply, the PMO said.
“Israel does not manufacture vaccines and told [the countries] that asked that the amount Israel ordered is meant to vaccinate its population and does not expect to have a significant ability to help until Israel’s vaccination operation ends,” it said.
However, “in the last month a limited amount of vaccines that were not being used accumulated, and therefore it was decided to help with a symbolic amount of vaccines for medical staff of the Palestinian Authority and some countries that asked Israel,” it added.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz opposed the move, saying it could only be justified by an urgent security, diplomatic or medical need, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not presented to the public or the cabinet.
“The fact that Netanyahu is trading the vaccines that Israeli citizens paid for with their tax money, without any accountability, shows that he thinks he’s running a kingdom and not a country,” he said.
Netanyahu was considering donating vaccines to a country with which it does not have diplomatic relations in exchange for normalization, Army Radio reported earlier this week.
As Israel began its vaccine rollout late last year, some activists and foreign media outlets criticized Israel for not including the Palestinians, arguing that under international law, Israel is the “occupying power” and must vaccinate them.
Israel, has pointed out that the internationally recognized Oslo Accords state that the PA is responsible for its population’s healthcare, including vaccinations.
Regardless of legal matters, the government has already sent thousands of doses of coronavirus vaccines to the PA and facilitated the entry of Russian donations of the Sputnik V vaccines.
Last week, Netanyahu said Israel and the Palestinians were “in one epidemiological range.”
“We have a clear interest that we don’t want illnesses and sick people to pass through our borders from the Palestinian Authority and Gaza,” he told Army Radio.