Israel’s plans to begin supplying the Palestinians with some of its surplus Covid-19 vaccine supply have been put on hold.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit froze the vaccine transfer over calls from lawmakers that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had skipped over mandated legal steps to issue the decision.
After facing international pressure to aid the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had proudly declared on Feb. 23 that “it has been decided to assist Palestinian Authority medical teams and several of the countries that contacted Israel with a symbolic quantity of vaccines.” Those countries, according to reports, had included Honduras, Guatemala and the Czech Republic — all nations that have moved their embassies to Jerusalem or have said they will expand their diplomatic presence in Jerusalem.
Just two days later, Mandelblit announced the freeze, saying that one of the calls for the move came from Netanyahu’s own advisers.
The Palestinian Authority announced a new lockdown in the West Bank on Saturday amid surging coronavirus cases. Israel, which has given a first vaccine dose to over half of its entire population, has only previously supplied the P.A. with 2,000 vaccine doses, according to a Feb. 27 New York Times report. The report added that “low trust in Israeli authorities and a flood of unsubstantiated, negative rumors about the vaccine circulating on social media” have hampered the nascent effort to vaccinate Palestinians, who have also received 10,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
There are no details on when Mandelblit’s decision on the issue could be completed.