Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on Tuesday accused Israel of racism due to its failure to offer to distribute coronavirus vaccines to Palestinian Arabs.
“I think it’s really important to understand Israel is a racist state and that they would deny Palestinians, like my grandmother, access to a vaccine, that they don’t believe that she’s an equal human being that deserves to live, deserves to be able to be protected by this global pandemic,” the congresswoman, who is of Palestinian Arab descent, told Democracy Now.
“And it’s really hard to watch as this apartheid state continues to deny their own neighbors, the people that breathe the same air they breathe, that live in the same communities,” she charged.
“I hope my colleagues, I hope our country, sees what the Palestinians have been trying to tell us for a very long time. … You can see it with the distribution of the vaccine,” continued Tlaib.
Tlaib also maintained that Israel “has no intention” of helping Palestinian Arabs recover from the coronavirus pandemic because the US is “enabling” them to do so.
“They have the power to distribute that vaccine to the Palestinian people, their own neighbors, again, feet away from where they live, many of which, again, could expose them and their family and it doesn’t,” she told Democracy Now. “If anything, it just reiterates what the Palestinian people and even human rights groups have been telling us, is that this is an apartheid state.”
Israel has been criticized by several organizations in recent weeks for failing to provide the Palestinian Authority (PA) with COVID-19 vaccines.
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 told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week 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.
“As you know, after the Oslo Accords and after our withdrawal from Gaza, the vast majority of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza are under Palestinian control. It’s the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to take care of their citizens,” he said, adding, “We would like to help but we will be able to help only after taking care of our own citizens.”
The PA, meanwhile, has said it had signed agreements with four companies to supply COVID-19 vaccines. On Tuesday, it received a shipment of the Russian Sputnik vaccine which was reportedly donated by President Vladimir Putin.
Tlaib, of course, is notorious for her anti-Israel statements. She claimed in an interview in 2019 that Palestinian Arabs living in the British Mandate prior to the establishment of the State of Israel “provided” a safe haven to Jews after the Holocaust.
In addition, when asked in a past television interview whether she would vote against military aid to Israel when she goes to Congress, Tlaib replied, “Absolutely.”
Last year, Tlaib tweeted an acknowledgement of Nakba Day, a day commemorated by Palestinian Arabs to mark what they call the “catastrophe” of the establishment of the State of Israel.
Last summer, Israel announced it would bar entry to Tlaib and fellow Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar over their support for BDS.