Jan 20, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

Timeline of the PA vaccine activities and libel blaming Israel:‎

Nov. 21, 2020:‎
PA meets with WHO, UNICEF, UNRWA “to ensure that Palestine is provided ‎with adequate Coronavirus vaccines” (Israel not invited)‎

Dec. 12, 2020:‎
PA orders “four million doses of the Russian vaccine… expected in Palestine by ‎the end of this year” (Israel’s help not requested)‎

Jan. 9, 2021:‎
PA announces: “Four vaccine producer companies [will deliver for] 70% of the ‎Palestinian people… the WHO will provide for 20%” (Israel’s help not needed)‎

Jan. 9, 2021:
PA announces: “Two million doses were ordered [from AstraZeneca]… we ‎received an official response from the company… [Also] the Russian company ‎Sputnik, and a vaccine was ordered… We are not just waiting… we are ‎working…” (Israel’s help not needed)‎

Suddenly, after everything the PA was doing independently – it was time to blame Israel: ‎

Jan. 10, 2021:‎
PA Foreign Ministry demands that Israel “ supply the Palestinian people with ‎Coronavirus vaccines… [Israel is] racially discriminating against the ‎Palestinian people, and negating its right to health [services]… an apartheid ‎against the Palestinian people in the field of health” ‎

Palestinian Media Watch has repeatedly exposed that the PA often blames Israel for its ‎own failures, and the PA’s behavior following its inability to acquire the Covid‏-‏‎19 ‎vaccine fast enough is no different.‎

The PA has been assuring its population for two months that its Ministry of Health is in ‎control, has ordered vaccines, and that their arrival is imminent, without Israel’s help. ‎However, it is not progressing to their satisfaction, so the PA has chosen its default ‎excuse for all PA failures: to blame Israel!‎

Already on Nov. 21, 2020, the PA Minister of Health, Mai Alkaila, met with the WHO, ‎UNICEF, UNRWA, the PA Ministry of Finance, the PA Ministry of Information, and the ‎Epidemiological Committee. Alkaila announced that the PA would “submit the ‎necessary documents to the WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and ‎Immunization (GAVI) to ensure that Palestine is provided with adequate coronavirus ‎vaccines.” [Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Nov. 21, 2020] Israel was not ‎even part of the meeting.‎

Now after two months, the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs changed tunes and ‎launched a demonization campaign against Israel accusing Israel of racism and what ‎they called ”health apartheid,” because Palestinians are not being vaccinated by ‎Israel: ‎

‎“The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates emphasized in a statement ‎yesterday evening that Israel’s obligation as the occupying power is to supply ‎the Palestinian people with Coronavirus vaccines. This is at a time when it is ‎supplying these vaccines to its citizens, ignoring its obligations as an occupying ‎power, racially discriminating against the Palestinian people, and negating ‎its right to health [services]… The Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the ‎positions of the states, institutions, parliamentarians, jurists, and international ‎figures who have viewed Israel’s violations as an apartheid against the ‎Palestinian people in the field of health.” ‎

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 10, 2021] ‎

This sudden attack ignores the fact that the PA did not want Israel’s help and did not ‎ask for Israel’s help, and contradicts its repeated assurances that it succeeded to ‎secure the vaccines.‎

The following are some of the statements made by officials in the PA Ministry of Health regarding the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccines:‎

PA Minister of Health Alkaila reported:‎

“The meeting discussed the required logistical and financial measures to buy ‎the Coronavirus vaccine approved by WHO, and [the PA] will submit the ‎necessary documents to the WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and ‎Immunization (GAVI) to ensure that Palestine is provided with adequate ‎Coronavirus vaccines.”‎

[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Nov. 21, 2020]‎

Osama Najjar, official with PA Ministry of Health, reported:‎

“Around four million doses of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, are expected in ‎Palestine by the end of this year and the beginning of next year and that once ‎they arrive, they will be given to the Palestinian people.”‎

[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Dec. 12, 2020]‎

Minister of Health Alkaila:‎

“The vaccine should arrive in Palestine by early next year. Palestine is in touch ‎with Russia, Moderna and AstraZeneca companies regarding the purchase of ‎the vaccine, but not Pfizer since this company’s vaccine requires the presence ‎of refrigerators that store the vaccine at below 80 degrees Celsius. But since ‎Palestine has only one such refrigerator, but not the means to transport the ‎vaccine to the various parts of the country, it has decided not to contact Pfizer ‎regarding the purchase of its vaccine.”‎

[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Dec. 12, 2020]‎

Minister Alkaila regarding the financing:‎

“The COVEX Facility, which helps poorer countries with vaccines, will cover ‎costs of the vaccine for only 20 percent of the Palestinian population while the ‎government will finance enough for 50 percent of the people of the West Bank ‎and Gaza Strip.”‎

[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Dec. 12, 2020]‎

By Jan.9, 2021, the PA health authorities twice assured its population that the vaccines ‎were on the way:‎

Minister of Health Alkaila:‎

“[The PA] ministry [of Health] has contacted four vaccine producer companies ‎and that the amount to be delivered will cover 70 percent of the Palestinian ‎people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while the World Health Organization ‎will provide vaccines for 20 percent of the population.”‎

[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Jan. 9, 2021]‎

PA Ministry of Health Director-General of Public Health Dr. Yasser Bouziya:‎

“Two million doses were ordered from this company [AstraZeneca] to vaccinate ‎nearly 1 million of the residents of Palestine. We received an official response ‎from the company… In addition, Her Honor the minister of health contacted the ‎Russian company Sputnik, and a vaccine was ordered and we are waiting for ‎an official response from the company… We are not just waiting… we are ‎working on what is called the preliminary stage of the vaccine’s arrival in ‎Palestine.”‎

[Official PA TV, Corona – Measures and Prevention, Jan. 9, 2021]‎

While it is unclear why the PA’s planning is not satisfactory, apparently seeing Israel’s success ‎obtaining vaccines, the PA then reverted to its default position:  ‎blaming and demonizing Israel. ‎

Finally, it should be noted that the Oslo Accords transferred full responsibility for the ‎health of Palestinians to the PA, which now has completely autonomous health ‎services, for which it receives significant international financial aid. Whereas, Israel ‎regularly supplies healthcare aid to the PA, as it did in the early months of the Covid-19 ‎crisis, Israel does this not out of obligation but out of its concern for the health of its ‎neighbors.‎

Palestinian Media Watch has demonstrated that the PA as policy blames Israel for its ‎failures:‎

  • When the PA failed to crack down on the Palestinian cultural phenomenon of ‎shooting weapons at wedding ceremonies, it blamed Israel. ‎
  • When the PA experienced the second wave of Covid-19 infections, it blamed ‎Israel. ‎
  • When the PA fails in its efforts to curb Palestinian drug trafficking, it blames ‎Israel.‎

Indeed, the PA policy of blaming Israel for all its failures is so recurring that even ‎Palestinians make fun of it. Years ago, a satirical PA TV program mocked the PA for ‎blaming all its failures on Israel – even husbands “blaming the occupation” when they ‎were unfaithful to their wives.

The following are longer excerpts of the statements cited above: ‎

“RAMALLAH, Saturday, November 21, 2020 (WAFA) – The Minister of Health, Mai Alkaila, said last night that the COVAX Facility National Committee discussed procedures to purchase the coronavirus vaccine.

Participants in the virtual meeting included representatives of the general secretariat of the Palestinian cabinet, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Information, and the Epidemiological Committee.

Alkaila said the meeting discussed the required logistical and financial measures to buy the coronavirus vaccine approved by WHO, and it will submit the necessary documents to the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) to ensure that Palestine is provided with adequate coronavirus vaccines.

The Minister of Health yesterday participated in another virtual meeting for the COVAX AMC engagement group, which is an arm of the World Health Organization for the coronavirus vaccine, to discuss the latest developments of the coronavirus vaccine in terms of manufacturing, distribution, cold chain, transportation and also financing.”

‎[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Nov. 21, 2020‎]‎

“RAMALLAH, Saturday, December 12, 2020 (WAFA) – Four million doses of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine are expected in Palestine in the near future, today said Osama Najjar, an official with the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

He told Voice of Palestine radio that around four million doses of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, are expected in Palestine by the end of this year and the beginning of next year and that once they arrive, they will be given to the Palestinian people.

Speaking on Palestine TV this morning, Minister of Health Mai Alkaila confirmed that the vaccine should arrive in Palestine by early next year and said that Palestine is in touch with Russia, Moderna and AstraZeneca companies regarding the purchase of the vaccine, but not Pfizer since this company’s vaccine requires the presence of refrigerators that store the vaccine at below 80 degrees Celsius. But since Palestine has only one such refrigerator, but not the means to transport the vaccine to the various parts of the country, it has decided not to contact Pfizer regarding the purchase of its vaccine.

Alkaila also said the COVEX Facility, which helps poorer countries with vaccines, will cover costs of the vaccine for only 20 percent of the Palestinian population while the government will finance enough for 50 percent of the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

‎[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Dec. 12‎, 2020‎]‎

“RAMALLAH, Saturday, January 09, 2021 (WAFA) – Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that there is still no set date for the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine in Palestine.

She told WAFA in a telephone interview that she, nevertheless, expects the vaccine to arrive in the first quarter of this year, explaining that her ministry has contacted four vaccine producer companies and that the amount to be delivered will cover 70 percent of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while the World Health Organization will provide vaccines for 20 percent of the population.

Alkaila said that there is a decline in the number of positive corona cases in Palestine, but that the measures taken to contain the disease will continue for the time being as her ministry will decide in the coming days whether or not to recommend continuing with the night and weekend lockdown.”

‎[Wafa, Official PA news agency (English), Jan. 9‎, 2021‎]‎

Headline: “The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Israel’s obligation as an occupying power is to ‎supply the Palestinian people with Coronavirus vaccines”‎

‎“The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates emphasized in a statement yesterday ‎evening [Jan. 9, 2021] that Israel’s obligation as the occupying power is to supply the Palestinian ‎people with Coronavirus vaccines. ‎

This is at a time when it is supplying these vaccines to its citizens, ignoring its obligations ‎as an occupying power, racially discriminating against the Palestinian people, and ‎negating its right to health [services].‎

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that Israel is attempting to relieve itself of its obligations as ‎an occupying power, and placing the full responsibility on the Palestinian [PA] government…‎

The ministry emphasized that the fact that the Palestinian leadership is attempting to supply ‎these vaccines through various sources does not relieve Israel of its responsibility to ‎supply the vaccines to the Palestinian people, and this is according to the principles of ‎humanitarian and international law and the 1907 Hague Convention…

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the positions of the states, institutions, parliamentarians, ‎jurists, and international figures who have viewed Israel’s violations as an apartheid (sic., see ‎note below) against the Palestinian people in the field of health.‎

It demanded that the international community pressure Israel so that it will do what is required of ‎it, especially according to Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which emphasizes ‎that the occupying power must ensure ‘the adoption and application of the prophylactic ‎and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and ‎epidemics.’”‎

‎[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 10, 2021]‎

Red Cross rebuts Palestinian claims that Israel commits “executions” and is an ‎‎“apartheid state” – Jacques De Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross ‎‎(ICRC) delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, rejected claims that Israel carries out ‎‎“extrajudicial killings” or is an “apartheid state” in an interview with the Israeli news site Ynet on ‎April 26, 2017. De Maio said: “We came to the unequivocal conclusion that there are no shoot to ‎kill orders of suspects by IDF (i.e., the Israeli army), as some political elements tried to convince ‎us. Rules of engagement have not changed, and became even stricter.” Regarding claims of ‎apartheid, De Maio said: “No, there is no apartheid here, no regime of superiority of race, of ‎denial of basic human rights to a group of people because of their alleged racial inferiority‏.”‏

The statements by the head of the ICRC delegation to Israel and the PA disprove the PA’s ‎repeated claim that Israel is committing “summary executions of Palestinians in cold blood” – a ‎claim that PMW has documented numerous times: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=779‎

Official PA TV program Corona – Measures and Prevention, hosting University of ‎Michigan Adjunct Research Associate Professor and Senior Vice-President of Vaccine ‎R&D at BlueWillow Biologics Ali Fattom and PA Ministry of Health Director-General of ‎Public Health Dr. Yasser Bouziya

University of Michigan Adjunct Research Associate Professor and Senior Vice-‎President of Vaccine R&D at BlueWillow Biologics Ali Fattom: “Israel has a moral, ‎political, and human obligation towards all of Palestine. Therefore, it cannot fully ‎vaccinate the Israeli public and leave the Palestinian public waiting for months ‎afterwards. ‎

And this is also obligatory in terms of epidemic policy because there is a mixing, if we ‎will, a mixing between the two peoples and the two areas, such that Israel saying that it ‎will not vaccinate and that it is not responsible is something morally unacceptable. We ‎must work to obligate Israel to commit to giving these vaccines to every Palestinian in ‎the West Bank and

Gaza Strip, because this is its obligation as an occupying state and ‎an occupying government, and it must uphold these obligations according to ‎international law and must be sued for this.”‎
‎…‎

PA Ministry of Health Director-General of Public Health Dr. Yasser Bouziya: “Her ‎Honor [PA] Minister of Health [Mai Al-Kaila] contacted a number of companies, ‎conducted official correspondence, and made orders, foremost among them [from] the ‎company AstraZeneca. Two million doses were ordered from this company to vaccinate ‎nearly 1 million of the residents of

Palestine. We received an official response from the ‎company that they will also work to supply these vaccines to Palestine at the end of ‎February or beginning of March [2021], and this is at the beginning of the company’s ‎global production… In addition,

Her Honor the minister of health contacted the ‎Russian company Sputnik, and a vaccine was ordered from it and we are waiting for ‎an official response from the company… We are not just waiting for when they will ‎supply these vaccines to Palestine, but rather we are working on what is called the ‎preliminary stage of the vaccine’s arrival in Palestine, like making the necessary ‎preparations both on the infrastructure level such as the cold chain and the like, and ‎also establishing the various committees.”‎

[Official PA TV, Corona – Measures and Prevention, Jan. 9, 2021]‎

Reprinted with author’s permission from Palestinian Media Watch