Israel to Send Thousands of Vaccines to Countries Opening Embassies in Jerusalem

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Palestinian Medical Staff in Hebron, this month
Palestinian Medical Staff in Hebron, this monthCredit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH - AFP
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

Israel will send a few thousand doses of the vaccines to several countries with which it has bolstered its relations in recent years – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Guatemala and Honduras.

Israel is also expected to send additional vaccines to healthcare workers in the West Bank, as well as another unnamed country, as confirmed by the Prime Minister's Office. 

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The exact number of vaccines being distributed internationally and to the West Bank has not been given.

The vaccines given to the Palestinian Authority will be used to inoculate medical staff, the statement said.

Guatemala moved its Israel embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, while Honduras has announced its intention to move their embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Czech Republic has said it plans to open a "diplomatic office" in Jerusalem. In 2019, Hungary opened a "trade office" in the city as well.

“In light of the successful vaccination campaign in Israel, the leading country in the world in inoculating the population, Israel has received many requests from the countries of the world to assist with the supply of vaccines,” the statement read.

Israel's original agreement with Pfizer is expected to end in two weeks, with the arrival of 1.5 million vaccines. However, the latest shipment is not expected to impact the vaccine rollout, according to sources from Israel's health maintainence organizations. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is expected to visit Israel on March 8, and discuss ongoing deals with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Gantz slammed the secret nature of Netanyahu's discussions regarding the vaccine transactions.

"The fact that Netanyahu trades in vaccines funded by Israeli's taxpayers without discussion and accountability shows that he is running a kingdom, and not a country. Such proceedings need discussion and official approval. Only an urgent security, policy or public health emergency could justify a move like this, and Netanyahu needs to present these negotiations to the public, or at least have it approved by the relevant forums," Gantz said in a tweet.   

In March, hundreds of thousands of Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive in Israel. 

Following the reports of Israel sending vaccines to a number of countries, Meretz Chairperson Tamar Zandberg submitted a request to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking him to send more vaccinations to the West Bank and Gaza.

"While sending vaccines to other countries is a welcomed move, Israel has stopped short of fulling its promise to the Palestinians," Zandberg wrote in a letter to Netanayhu.

"Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are considered one bloc epidemiologically, and Israel, as the controlling force of the Palestinians and their fate, has an obligation to fulfill by sending vaccines to the Palestinian Authority. Giving them vaccines is not an act of goodwill, rather an obligation of the State of Israel." 

Israel agreed to purchase hundreds of thousands of Russian-made COVID vaccines that will be given to Syria as part of a deal to release an Israeli woman who crossed into Syria, according to foreign reports. The agreement between Jerusalem and Moscow to secure her release included a commitment that the vaccine transfer would remain secret.

Last month, Israel delivered 5,000 coronavirus vaccines to the West Bank for healthcare workers, following a recommendation from the Defense Ministry and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Around two weeks ago, the Palestinian Authority submitted a request to Israel asking to send one thousand Sputnik V vaccines to medical teams in Gaza, from the tens of thousands of vaccines expected to reach the West Bank from Russia. Israel has not yet made a decision regarding the request. 

Israel's vaccination drive is continuing apace, with nearly half of the population inoculated with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and a third of the population receiving their second jab, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 

Israel has now inoculated more than 4.4 million people (48 percent of the population), with 110,000 people receiving a jab on Monday. Of the overall figure, more than 3 million people (33 percent of the population) have received the second dose of the vaccination.

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