Israel announced Friday it would send roughly one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in return for a similar number of doses later this year.
But the PA has turned away the shots, claiming that they expire too soon, according to The Associated Press. The first round of vaccines to be swapped had already made their way into PA-controlled territory when the deal was called off.
Israel’s new government, led by new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who was sworn in Sunday, said it expected to be reimbursed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) sometime in September or October when it receives vaccine doses from Pfizer. An Israeli statement said as many as 1.4 million doses could be exchanged.
“We will continue to find effective ways to cooperate for the benefit of people in the region,” tweeted Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
Israel today agreed a deal to transfer 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the Palestinian Authority. We will continue to find effective ways to cooperate for the benefit of people in the region.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid???? (@yairlapid) June 18, 2021
Palestinian leadership suggested the initial agreement had more to do with Pfizer than the Israelis. “This is not an agreement with Israel, but with the Pfizer company,” Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said. (RELATED: Hamas Releases Statement Denouncing Rep. Ilhan Omar For Equating Them With ‘Crimes’ Of America, Israel)
The PA said the exchange was encouraged by Pfizer as a way to speed up the delivery of four million doses purchased directly from the drug company by the Palestinian leadership.
Israel has led one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the world, allowing it to reopen its economy earlier than nearly any other country in the world. Pro-Palestinian organizations and activists have been at odds with the Israeli government over whether or not it has an obligation to provide COVID-19 vaccines to PA-controlled areas in the West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Around 430,000 Palestinians have been vaccinated so far, according to the AP. Palestinians have largely been receiving vaccines from private companies and the World Health Organization, which has urged the developing world to be more charitable in sharing vaccine doses with poorer countries.