Dennis Ross
Dennis RossUri Lenz/Flash 90

Dennis Ross, who served as the special Middle East coordinator under US President Bill Clinton, on Sunday criticized the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for refusing to accept COVID-19 vaccine doses from Israel.

“Isn’t it time for Palestinian leaders to focus on helping their people, not scoring points. Some of the 1 million vaccines Israel offered the PA expired the end of June, some the end of July. Citing to the expiration dates, the PA rejected them. Who loses? The Palestinian public,” tweeted Ross.

On Friday, Israel announced that it would transfer to the PA between 1 million and 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that are set to expire soon.

In exchange for the vaccines to be transferred to the PA, Israel will receive an identical quantity of new vaccine doses from Pfizer during September and October 2021, in place of the consignment earmarked for the PA.

Hours later, however, the PA cancelled the deal. The PA’s “minister of health”, Mai al-Kaila, said in a press conference that the decision to cancel the deal is due to the fact that many of the doses are set to expire.

The PA officially launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in February, after Israel transferred 2,000 doses of Moderna vaccines and said it had earmarked another 3,000 shots for Palestinian Arabs.

Despite getting thousands of doses from Israel as well as vaccines from Russia and as part of the COVAX initiative, the PA has been critical of Israel and has accused it of holding up the transfer of vaccines.

At the same time, the PA has acknowledged it provided COVID-19 vaccines to senior PA officials and to the Jordanian royal family.