Israel set to share COVID-19 vaccine with Palestinian labourers

Having already launched one of the world’s most successful COVID-19 vaccination programs, Israel has now announced that they will be vaccinating Palestinians who work in Israel and the West Bank.

Israel has already vaccinated almost half its population of 9.3 million in two months, under an aggressive vaccination program spearheaded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, the Israeli Government has come under fire for not sharing its vaccine stockpile with the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite their plans to distribute surplus vaccines with allies in Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu getting the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Miriam Alster/JINI)

Before their announcement, Israel had shared only 2,000 vaccines with the Palestinian Authority to protect front-line medical workers in the West Bank.

UN officials and human rights groups had also expressed concerns over the economic disparity between the two nations, which has led to unequal vaccine access. These groups have said that “Israel is an occupying power that is responsible for the wellbeing of the Palestinians,” – a claim that Israel has rejected, citing the 1990s Peace Accords (known as the Oslo Accords).

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has also weighed in on the issue, saying that it was “outrageous that Netanyahu would use spare vaccines to reward his foreign allies while so many Palestinians in the occupied territories are still waiting.”

The Israeli vaccination program should provide some semblance of relief to Palestinians, who were forced to induce a new lockdown to control a coronavirus outbreak in the West Bank and have only managed to secure a few thousand vaccines, despite their population of almost five million.