Israel has suspended a controversial plan that uses the coronavirus vaccine to win allies abroad and then hand it over to most Palestinians after the initiative is legally challenged.
The Minister of Health of Israel said on Friday that half of Israeli citizens have now received at least one dose of vaccination, the highest number in the world.
As his country began to look forward to a future beyond Covid-19 restrictions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the diplomatic delivery of thousands of vaccines to countries in Africa, Europe and Latin America.
The plan illustrates how vaccines can become a valuable bargaining chip on the international negotiating table. But this caused widespread condemnation, as Palestinians were forced to wait for vaccination.
Opponents within Netanyahu̵
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused the prime minister of “hiding behind his cabinet” and made this decision without consulting them.
On Thursday, the Israeli Minister of Justice announced a review of whether Netanyahu has the legal power to decide on his own. A spokesperson said: “The Attorney General is reviewing claims that vaccines have been transferred abroad without authorization.”
The spokesperson added that the government therefore decided to “take any action” on vaccine shipments.
Gantz expressed his appreciation for this.
Netanyahu’s actions were undemocratic and bypassed the procedure. If there are reasons to transfer vaccines to other countries at the expense of Israeli citizens, this will only be decided in appropriate forums. “
Netanyahu told the “Israel Hay” on Friday that he has held talks with 30 countries on sharing doses and has ensured that the gifts will not affect the vaccination of Israelis.
He said: “Everyone wants to know how we caused this miracle, everyone wants to participate, whether it is knowledge or helpful.”
Israel did not disclose which country will receive the vaccine, but Israeli media reported that Netanyahu initially planned to send up to 100,000 doses of vaccine to more than a dozen countries-some of which are already allies, while others are working hard.
A batch of 5,000 doses has arrived in Guatemala and Honduras. The two countries have agreed to follow the leadership of former President Donald Trump and move his embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is a small but important diplomatic victory for Netanyahu.
“Thank the Israeli people and our friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for donating 5,000 vaccines!” Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Twitter on Thursday.
China, Russia, and India have also participated in so-called vaccine diplomacy, distributing medicines to friendly countries, and sometimes even putting vaccination above their own people.
However, as Israel delivers doses to the other side of the world, the vast majority of Palestinians are still waiting for the vaccine.
According to the latest data, Israel has so far provided only 2,000 doses of Moderna vaccine to the Palestinian Authority and has pledged to provide another 3,000 doses. Russia has donated 10,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine to Palestinians.
This leaves the Palestinians far from being able to vaccinate the approximately 5 million people living in the West Bank and Gaza.
The first available doses are currently being provided to Palestinian medical staff.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said that Israel’s exchange of vaccines in exchange for diplomatic favors is a “political blackmail and immoral measure”.
This criticism has been responded to in the United States and other countries.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Netanyahu said earlier this week: “Netanyahu will use spare vaccines to reward his foreign allies. Many Palestinians in the occupied territories are still waiting.”
Israel argues that under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Palestinians have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their vaccines. However, UN officials and human rights organizations say that as an occupying power, Israel is obliged to provide them with weapons in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
Israel will hold elections on March 23. Natanyahu handled the promotion of vaccines and his talent on the international stage. This is the core content of his re-election campaign.
Opinion polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud party can certainly win more seats than any other party, but it is not clear whether he can form a majority party coalition government to help him avoid the ongoing corruption trial. The legal consequences of coming.