What does Israel's vaccination campaign have to do with PA COVID crisis?

Israeli society has much that it can and is willing to share with Palestinians when Palestinian officials don’t stand in the way.

A health care worker prepares a coronavirus vaccine (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
A health care worker prepares a coronavirus vaccine
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
"Israel leads the world in COVID vaccinations” was the title of one of NBC News online videos last Wednesday and the network’s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, from a home ZOOM setting and in a tone of admiration cited Israel’s impressive statistics: 1.3 million immunized, some 12% of the population, including 55% of those over 60 and or in fragile health.  
Israelis and supporters around the world viewing this could justifiably beam with pride, but just before ending the report, the scene briefly switched to an Israeli checkpoint and then shifted to what looked like a bare room in which sat a rather forlorn looking Palestinian woman tending four equally troubled-looking youngsters all crowded on a bed, one crying and another playing with a mask. At this point Engel, in a more somber tone, said: “But just across the wall, the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to get vaccine so far… zero.”
What connects Engel’s report on Israel’s successful nationwide vaccination program to the sorrowful COVID-19 situation in the Palestinian Authority?  What was the purpose of this non-sequitur?
The message was subtle, but clear. Even without commentary, NBC’s viewers were induced by the dramatic juxtaposition to attribute the paucity of vaccinations among the Palestinians to Israel, with Israel’s own success even appearing spiteful.
Not surprisingly, the NBC report did not attempt to offer an explanation for the reason Palestinians have not yet received the vaccine to combat the alarming spread of coronavirus. Had the story’s researchers exercised due diligence, they would have learned that this situation is not due to a discriminatory policy by Israel but rather, and yet again, to the ideological obstinacy of the Palestinian leadership. In fact, the latter have spurned efforts by Israel to assist the PA to acquire vaccines as was reported in The Jerusalem Post.
But further, as pointed out by the Post’s Lahav Harkov, under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is exclusively responsible for providing the population in its charge with all manner of health care, including vaccinations. Israel has no more responsibility for providing vaccines to the PA, or for vaccinating the Palestinian population than it does for vaccinating the citizens of Egypt, Lebanon, or Jordan.
The NBC report insinuated, even claimed, that Israel is being deliberately negligent and endangers Palestinian lives and this is reminiscent of the medieval canard of the Jews having poisoned Europe’s wells and causing gentiles to die of the Black Plague while they largely managed to avoid it.
The NBC broadcast was just one among several recent mainstream news reports, some of which were even more openly accusatory. Some actually allege that Israel has been blocking efforts by the Palestinians to acquire vaccine.
While such false reports seek to tarnish Israel’s name, they also perpetuate the notion of Palestinian victimization. This misleading narrative also serves to deny the Palestinians’ agency; it relieves them of responsibility for their own affairs, attempts to impugn the Jewish state and demeans the image of Palestinians.
Israeli society has much that it can and is willing to share with Palestinians when Palestinian officials don’t stand in the way but once again, they are standing in the way. And once again, a biased and poorly informed media, in keeping with a long-standing tradition, rushes to turn Israel into a scapegoat for the misfortunes of the Palestinians.

The writer is the director of iTalkIsrael. He lives in Efrat.