Israel can’t catch a break: The rejected vaccine exchange with Palestine

July 16, 2021 • 12:00 pm

There is nothing that Israel can do, however praiseworthy, that isn’t criticized by the Israel- and Jew-haters of the world. What about the free and open gay community in Israel, while at the same time being gay is a criminal offense in Palestine? Well, that’s just “pinkwashing”, something Israel’s accused of doing just to gain the approbation of the world, not because they believe in equal rights for gays.

The latest example of a good deed that Israel tried to do, but was rejected by Palestine, is recounted in the Tablet article below (click on the screenshot). It involves a vaccine exchange with Palestine, which the Palestinians rejected for no good reason. (It reminds me of their repeated rejection of peace overtures.)

This one’s easy to recount. First realize that, according to the Oslo Accords, Israel is not responsible for health care in the Palestinian Territories, including vaccines. Although a lot of people damned Israel for not providing COVID vaccines for Palestine, they didn’t realize that they weren’t supposed to. Palestine is, according to Oslo, responsible for its own healthcare. Nevertheless, when Netanyahu was Prime Minister, vaccine was secretly given to Palestinians, probably the bigwigs in the government.

Now, however, the new Israeli government announced a deal to transfer 1.2 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to Palestine. The vaccines were going to expire at the end of May, the end of June, and the end of August, but were going to be given to Palestine in three batches in return for the Palestinians returning equal amounts of their own Pfizer allotments to Israel in October.  Here’s the announcement from the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Palestine agreed to this at first. After all, it’s a win-win situation: Israel has most of its population vaccinated, the vaccines could be used immediately by Palestine while they were still good, and Palestine could replenish the Israeli supply later. Palestine has a low vaccination rate and a high infection rate. They need the vaccine now, not in October.

I suspect this is part of the new Israeli government’s desire to take a softer stance towards Palestine. But, as you might expect, it didn’t work.

After negotiating the deal, Palestine rejected it, and for no good reason. As Tablet explains:

But the deal was short-lived. Mere hours after it was announced, the Palestinian Authority abruptly canceled the entire arrangement. The official reason was that the initial batch of 100,000 vaccines were too close to their expiration dates. The real reason was that they had received extremist backlash on social media over working with Israel.

The conspiratorial notion that Israel deliberately sent unusable vaccines to the Palestinians would later be exposed by events, after both Israelis and South Koreans happily made use of the doses. But it was obviously a lie at the time. The vaccine swap had been in the works for months, and every detail had been carefully vetted by the Palestinian Authority, including the expiration dates. As noted, the entire purpose of the arrangement was to swap soon-to-expire doses for distant doses, so that each population would have vaccines when they most needed them. Naturally, Israel first sent over the doses that expired that month, so that they could be immediately administered. This wasn’t a bait-and-switch, it was the plan. It was a feature—spelled out in the official Israeli statement announcing the deal—not a bug.

The fact that the vaccines were indeed usable comes from the observation that the first rejected batch was used to inoculate Israeli teenagers, while the second batch of 700,000 doses has been traded to South Korea, who is using them now (they also have a high infection rate), and will return the doses when they get their own later. The vaccines were not past their expiration date; they just needed to be used now.

There’s more:

But this arrangement was not explained to the Palestinian population, which allowed extremist and anti-vax elements to turn the public against the supposedly subpar “Israeli vaccines”—a campaign which was no doubt helped by preexisting levels of vaccine hesitancy among Palestinians. Local social media began overflowing with protests against the agreement, and rather than explain how it worked, the Palestinian leadership folded immediately. Of course, had the real issue been the expiration dates of the first batch of vaccines, the obvious solution would have been to renegotiate the deal to exclude them. But that was not the real issue, and so the entire deal was called off.

This reminds me of Abba Eban’s famous quote after the Palestinians had rejected one of the many peace deals they were offered: the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

And it’s not just Palestine that’s trying to shift the blame to Israel for this debacle: the Western media and NGOs are helping as well:

But that political failure is unlikely to be rectified anytime soon due to the failures of two other entities that might have pressured the Palestinian Authority to change course: the media and the human rights community.

In June, rather than rebuke the Palestinian Authority for caving to extremists, several prominent NGOs ranging from Human Rights Watch to Physicians for Human Rights went to bat for the vaccine rejection, credulously echoing the false claim that the doses were essentially expired and unusable. These organizations had the contacts and the expertise to understand that this was not the case, but chose not to employ them, instead reflexively putting forward partisan talking points. Had they instead called out the Palestinian Authority for placing politics ahead of public health, its leaders might have altered course.

Here’s a tweet from the director of Human Rights Watch, which hates Israel, blaming that country for the failure:

That’s simply a lie!

Tablet says more:

Meanwhile, the international media did not do much better. Of all people, journalists should reasonably be expected to get to the bottom of whether Israel or the Palestinian Authority was telling the truth about the vaccines. But instead, too many outlets covered the entire affair in “he-said, she-said” terms, as though the truth was unknowable, rather than something that could be determined by careful reporting. The closing of the New York Times dispatch was emblematic of this approach:

Those who accepted Israel’s official position about the donations said the authority’s refusal to accept the vaccines had dented claims that Israel was to blame for the slow vaccination rate among Palestinians. But those who believed the Palestinian position said Israel had acted in bad faith by making the authority an offer that it had no choice but to refuse.

Had the Palestinian Authority originally agreed to accept the vaccines with these expiration dates? Could the doses be administered in time? Or was Israel’s leftist health minister, whose party includes an Arab minister, involved in a sinister scheme to foist unviable vaccines on the Palestinian population? If only there were some journalists around to find out.

There are those, like Human Rights Watch, that hate Israel so much (I wonder why?) that they simply can’t admit that on this one the Palestinians screwed up. Israel tried to do something good for both Palestine and Israel, and would surely save a number of Palestinian lives. When Palestine realized that it would make Israel look good and anger the anti-Israeli-anti-vaxers, they rejected the deal.  Consider that. Both the NGOs and the Palestinians would rather see their people die of COVID than accept the offer from Israel. So now the South Koreans are saved at the expense of Palestinians. (The fate of vaccines expiring in August is not yet known.)

With an attitude like that, it seems useless for Israel to reach out to Palestine to soften the enmity. It now seems as if the Palestinians won’t rest until they occupy Israel and that country disappears. The two-state solution appears to be dead, and is clearly opposed as well by many on the American Left (e.g., the Squad in Congress).

If you’d rather see your own people dead than negotiate a win-win deal with Israel, you are a dysfunctional territory. But we already knew that, for Palestine already uses its civilians as cannon fodder to protect Hamas and its rocket sites from Israeli attacks.

4 thoughts on “Israel can’t catch a break: The rejected vaccine exchange with Palestine

  1. …’the Palestinians won’t rest until they occupy Israel and that country disappears.’

    Much more likely, I think is that Israel will outlve the current Hamas-Iran axis, the next ten PA presidents, Hezbollah and very possibly the mullahs as well. By a very long time. A military superpower with a tough, smart population that will never forget the Holocaust isn’t going to be defeated, or even seriously incommoded, by the likes of this particular group of enemies.

  2. I would probably tell the Palestinians the same thing as the republicans who don’t get vaccinated — good luck.

  3. Read… “The hybrid government can bridge the political divide, which no longer reflects an ideological one”. Micah Goodman July 14, 2021 wall st J
    V interesting.
    Cd be a sea change.

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