Over the past few weeks, the British and international media have published articles regarding Israel’s roll-out of its vaccination programme. Many of those articles have praised Israel for the speed with which it managed to quickly vaccinate so many with the first vaccination, but so too did many also accuse Israel of refusing / failing to vaccinate the Palestinians.
To be clear, Israel’s vaccination programme will vaccinate all Israeli citizens regardless of religion and ethnicity, including Palestinians living in East Jerusalem as well as Palestinians in Israeli prisons. The media however, and those who simply default to scraping the barrel for anything with which to attack Israel in the court of public opinion, started reporting that it is Israel’s legal responsibility to vaccinate the Palestinians living in the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Firstly, when the media started smearing Israel with such accusations as “vaccination apartheid”, Israel did not yet have enough vaccinations to cover its own population. Secondly, even PA officials were confirming that they had made no requests to Israel for either inclusion in Israel’s vaccination programme or for help in securing the vaccination for its (the PA’s) population. PA officials also confirmed that they were reaching out to several vaccination manufacturers to secure the required numbers for its people.
Regrettably, the media – who all too often ignore the facts when it comes to Israel, pushed the narrative that Israel, as the “occupying power” in the West Bank, is responsible for the vaccination of the Palestinians under PA control. This is incorrect because of the Oslo Accords signed by both the Israelis and the Palestinians back in the 1990’s.
Under the Oslo Accords, the legal responsibility for the healthcare (including vaccination programmes) falls under the newly-created Palestinian Authority and indeed, since then, that is exactly what the PA has been doing.
Despite this but perhaps unsurprisingly, several MPs, Peers (see our blog from last week here) and others have published letters and articles condemning Israel, with one MP, Nadia Whittome, even tabling a motion “urging the British government to call out this injustice”. All of these people have seemingly chosen to ignore the shift in legal responsibilities brought about by the Oslo Accords.
Yesterday the Jerusalem Post ran a breaking news story, reporting that the PA, for the first time since Israel started vaccinating its own population (including the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Palestinian prisoners), had asked Israel to coordinate shipments for the vaccines the PA is securing from several manufacturers. According to the JPost’s breaking news story, Defence Minister Benny Gantz suggested that Israel give several thousand vaccines to vaccinate Palestinian medical personnel. Previously, Israel’s Health Minister. Previously, Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein had clarified that it was not Israel’s legal obligation to vaccinate the Palestinians outside of its jurisdiction but acknowledged that it was in Israel’s interests to help make sure the Palestinians get the vaccine, so as to contain the spread of the virus.
The seemingly intentional obfuscation of facts surrounding Israel’s legal obligations in the West Bank serves no other purpose than to encourage those who seek to malign Israel at any and every opportunity and fan the flames of Antisemitism.
In the meantime, we certainly hope that both the PA and Israel will work closely together to help secure a speedy shipment of the required number of vaccination doses the PA needs to fully vaccinate its own population.
Meanwhile, whilst Israel has, and continues to come under fire with regard its vaccination programme, the Lebanese ruling party is lobbying against vaccinating non-Lebanese in Lebanon, amongst which are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This should come as no surprise to those of us who know about the actual apartheid-like practices being meted out against the Palestinians living in Lebanon. Whilst movements such as the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement demonise Israel, a country in which Jews, Arabs and other minorities have full and equal rights enshrined in law, they ignore the Palestinians in Lebanon, who, through a series of apartheid-like laws, are barred from more than 25 professions including engineering, medicine & law, as well as being excluded from social services, health care and owning property.
And now, it seems, they’re being excluded from Lebanon’s COVID vaccination programme too.
Unsurprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be much about that in the media, but there is this article.