Democratic lawmakers criticize Israel over vaccines for PA

Two Democratic lawmakers say Israel should distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to Palestinian Arabs.

Elad Benari ,

Joaquin Castro
Joaquin Castro
Reuters

Two Democratic lawmakers on Sunday criticized Israel for failing to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to Palestinian Arabs.

Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro told Haaretz that he is “disappointed and concerned” by the developments.

“I commend Israel for leading the world on vaccinating its people, but I’m disappointed and concerned by their government’s exclusion of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation from these vaccination efforts, despite making COVID vaccines available to Israeli settlers in the West Bank,” said the Texas congressman.

“Israel’s government has a responsibility under international law not just to Israeli citizens but also Palestinians in the occupied territories. This is a stark reminder of the importance of achieving a two-state solution that respects the rights of the Palestinian people and the security of Israel,” he added.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, the newly elected Democrat from New York who defeated pro-Israel stalwart Eliot Engel in the Democratic primaries, echoed Castro's remarks.

"Netanyahu must ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to the Covid vaccine. This cruelty is another reminder of why the occupation must end," he tweeted.

The critics join Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who last week accused Israel of racism due to its failure to offer to distribute coronavirus vaccines to Palestinian Arabs.

However, as former Ambassador Alan Baker pointed out in a recent interview with Arutz Sheva, Israel is in no way obligated to deliver vaccines to Palestinian Arabs or to residents of Gaza.

"The Geneva Convention does not apply in the territories and since we signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO, the only legal regime operating in the territories is the one defined in the Oslo Accords. There is no commitment that implies that we need to provide the Palestinians with vaccines," he said.

New Hope party chairman Gideon Sa’ar recently told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Israel would be more than happy to provide vaccines to the PA, but that would only happen once it ensures that its own citizens have been vaccinated.

The PA, meanwhile, recently said it had signed agreements with four companies to supply COVID-19 vaccines.

Last week it said it would purchase 100,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.



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