Israel says giving 'unused' vaccines to Palestinians, others

By: AFP      Published: 10:44 PM, 23 Feb, 2021
Israel says giving 'unused' vaccines to Palestinians, others

Israel said Tuesday it would send a "limited quantity" of unused coronavirus vaccines to Palestinians and several countries, with Honduras, which plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem, reportedly on the list.

The Jewish state has administered the two recommended shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to more than three million people, roughly a third of its population. 

While many countries, including wealthy ones, continue to struggle with vaccine supply, Israel has avoided shortages since launching inoculations in December.

That is in part thanks to a deal with Pfizer, which agreed to keep the Jewish state stocked in exchange for data on the jab's impact. 

"Israel has received many requests from countries for assistance in supplying vaccines," a government statement said, adding it did not foresee offering "significant" help until its own inoculation drive had been completed. 

"Nevertheless, over the past month, a limited quantity of unused vaccines was accumulated; therefore, it has been decided to assist Palestinian Authority medical teams and several of the countries that contacted Israel with a symbolic quantity of vaccines," the statement said.

Israeli media reported that Honduras, which last year said it planned to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, would receive a supply. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office declined to comment on those reports, but a source familiar with the arrangement told AFP that Honduras was among the expected recipients. 

Israel encourages countries to recognise Jerusalem as its capital, but most maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv pending a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. 

Israel has already sent several thousand vaccine doses to the occupied West Bank to inoculate Palestinian Authority medical workers.

It did not disclose how many additional doses would be sent. 

Rights groups and the United Nations have said that Israel has an obligation under international law to vaccinate all Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and those in Gaza, where Israel maintains a tight blockade on the enclave, controlled by Hamas Islamists.