02/24/2021, 11.09
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Covid, extra doses of vaccine from Israel to 'friendly' countries. And to the Palestinians

A portion of the surplus reserved for Palestinian Authority health personnel. Czech Republic, Honduras and Guatemala among the possible beneficiaries. But the choice is the subject of political conflict: Gantz accuses Netanyahu of behaving as he was "at the head of a kingdom, not a state".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Israeli government, the global leader in immunization against Covid-19, intends to donate a "limited" and "unused" quantity of doses to third countries and the Palestinians.

Among the countries that will benefit from the initiative there is also Honduras, which has planned to open its embassy in Jerusalem soon.

Following a close agreement with Pfizer-BioNTech (and Moderna), Israel has been able to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to 50% of the population, equal to nine million people. Three million (one third) of citizens have already completed the immunization program having received the two doses.

In a note published by the cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it is stated that "Israel has received numerous requests for help from nations seeking vaccines". While not yet being able to guarantee "significant" help before the end of the vaccination campaign, a "limited amount" of "unused" and "accumulated last month" doses may be sent to other countries. Recipients reportedly include Palestinian Authority health personnel.

Guatemala, which opened its embassy in Jerusalem last year and is expecting 5,000 doses, should benefit from the "symbolic" shipment.

For the same reason, Honduras, yet to begin vaccinations, would also like to receive part of the surplus.

The Czech Republic premier has thanked his Israeli counterpart for the "gift" in view of the opening of the diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, scheduled for March.

The initiative has become the subject of political debate with Defence Minister (and Netanyahu's rival) Benny Gantz accusing the premier of "doing business" using "vaccines that are intended for Israeli citizens" and behaving as if it were " leadership of a kingdom, not of a state”.

Earlier this month Israel shipped 5,000 doses to Palestinians, to immunise at least some of the medical staff who are fighting the pandemic every day.

Israel’s decision not to include Palestinians in its mass vaccination plan sparked controversy over who had ultimate responsibility for the Palestinian population in the occupied territories under international law.

Last week the Netanyahu government authorized the distribution of one thousand doses of Russian Sputnik in Gaza. According to the United Nations and several pro-human rights NGOs, Israel has "an obligation" as an "occupying" power to "provide" vaccines to 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank and the two million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, for some time the subject of a very severe commercial blockade.

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