Israel also transferred 5,000 vaccine doses meant to inoculate Palestinian health workers. Some of those vaccines were promptly claimed for themselves by PA leaders and their extended families, a scandalous misappropriation over which Israel had no control. Israel has always made clear that if the Palestinians requested help, Israel would respond favorably. It has already vaccinated more than 120,000 Palestinians in the West Bank who work in Israel. It has said that whatever vaccines it has left after vaccinating its own population will be made available to the Palestinians. Jewish Voice for Peace in Pittsburgh surely know about, but chooses not to mention, any of this.
Now, because it has lagged far behind Israel’s program, Palestinian leaders have changed the narrative to blame Israel — and anti-Israel groups have followed their lead.
Had the PA taken the $350 million it spends annually on its Pay-For-Slay program, that both rewards and incentivizes terrorism, and instead spent it on buying vaccines in a timely fashion, it would have been able to vaccinate the entire Palestinian population several times over.
JVP’s insistence that Israel is neglecting its obligations under international law does not hold up under scrutiny.
The organization claims that Israel is obligated to vaccinate Palestinians under Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, but a closer look at the document reveals that this does not apply to Israel.
Article 56 states that an occupying power has the responsibility, “with the cooperation of national and local authorities,” to maintain hospitals and other health services in the territory that it holds. Accordingly, JVP claims that Israel, as an occupying power, must distribute vaccines to Palestinians.
But this is a faulty legal analysis. According to International Law Expert Eugene Kontorovich, “All these experts present Art. 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention as the sole governing provision, with no other context. This position is entirely misleading about the content of international law, and even the Geneva Convention itself. First, the contention that the Geneva Convention supplants [the Oslo Accords] is preposterous — it makes much of the latter agreement a dead letter, something none of these ‘experts’ argued when Oslo was first signed.”
Ever since the Oslo Accords were ratified, the PA has been in charge of giving vaccines to its people. This makes sense, as the PA considers itself to be the national authority of the Palestinians in the West Bank — and it provides all health care services for its people. Furthermore, it proudly — and publicly —stated that it would acquire the COVID vaccine from other sources.
Despite these facts, JVP makes the bold claim that Israel is practicing “medical apartheid,” which is nothing more than another new term to slander and demonize Israel.
The bottom line is this: Palestinians living in the West Bank aren’t citizens of Israel, and have their own national authority to represent them.
Despite no legal obligation to do so, Israel has given vaccines to 120,000 Palestinians with work permits in Israel, as well as in other cases. Israel has said it will help vaccine as many Palestinians as it can with whatever vaccines it has left once it has fulfilled its responsibility to complete the vaccination of its own citizens, Jews and Arabs, first.
JVP’s “medical apartheid” slander is merely another way to blame Israel for all the troubles of the Palestinians — and the world.
The Palestinians did no planning for the pandemic, failed to contract to buy any vaccines, but spent large sums on their Pay-For-Slay program that would have been sufficient to pay many times over for vaccines to inoculate the entire Palestinian population.
Israel, from the very beginning of the pandemic, supplied the Palestinians with gloves, masks, and other PPE, along with ventilators and other medical equipment.
Israel offered to help with vaccines if the Palestinians asked, but they refused to do so, claiming they could obtain supplies on their own from other sources.
Israel supplied an initial shipment of 5,000 doses of vaccine meant for Palestinian medical personnel.
Israel vaccinated 120,000 Palestinians who work in Israel.
When a campaign was started by the Palestinians and anti-Israel groups, charging Israel with refusing to fulfill what was claimed to be its solemn duty to vaccinate the Palestinians, Israel poInted out that Article 17 of the Oslo Accords (1995) transferred that duty from Israel to the Palestinians themselves. Like many of these groups, the JVP simply ignores Article 17.
Now that Israel is approaching the end of vaccinating its own citizens, I expect that Israel – despite having no obligation to do so – will again offer to make available its unused vaccines to the Palestinians. Will the PA this time accept that offer? And if it does, will the Jewish Voice for Peace manage to do the decent thing, and shut up?
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