After Palestinian leaders refused to accept the vaccines sent by Israel over the weekend, claiming that they were close to expiration date, three other countries have reportedly asked Israel to send them the vaccines, according to the Haaretz newspaper. If an agreement is reached it will mirror the terms of the agreement with the Palestinians whereby Israel would be repaid from future vaccine shipments to these countries. The deal would need the approval of Pfizer.
The Palestinians have not abandoned the possibility of a deal with Israel altogether but are seeking to receive vaccines which do not expire until the end of July. Israel had sent the original shipment of 100,000 vaccines out of a possible 1,000,000 to Ramallah in exchange for a part of the PA’s shipment expected later in 2021. However the Palestinians intend to return the vaccines, claiming that they do not meet their safety standards as they are set to expire at the end of June.
The Palestinians also balked at the two conditions which were originally set by Israel for transfer of vaccines: first, that no doses would go to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Hamas terror group; second, that the loan agreements would not designate the Palestinian Authority as “the State of Palestine,” as the body often refers to itself in official documents.
While life in Israel has largely returned to normal, the Palestinians have struggled to vaccinate their public, with less than a fifth having been vaccinated as of the past week.
Palestinian health minister Al-Kaila said Sunday that Ramallah has a series of agreements with the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to receive shipments of doses between now and the end of the year: 1,795,000 between July and September and 2 million between October and December. However these shipments were not expected to arrive on time, al-Kaila said, due to “global demand for the vaccine.”
According to the PA Health Ministry, 446,564 Palestinians had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Saturday night. Those figures include the more than 100,000 Palestinian workers that Israel has vaccinated since March. Another 52,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been vaccinated, mostly with Russian Sputnik V vaccines provided by the United Arab Emirates.
The Palestinians suffered their worst COVID-19 wave in March and April, which peaked at almost 3,000 new cases a day. However, following a strict lockdown, figures have dropped to some 250 cases daily.