The Palestinian Authority called off an agreement for Israel to transfer 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to it in exchange for a similar number later this year, hours after the deal was announced on Friday. The Palestinians said the doses, which Israel began shipping to the occupied West Bank, are close to expiring and do not meet their standards. In announcing the agreement, the AP reports, Israel had said the vaccines "will expire soon" without specifying a date; Pfizer doses typically have a six-month shelf life. Palestinian officials had already come under criticism, with many accusing them of accepting subpar vaccines and suggesting they might not be effective. There was no comment yet from Israel, which has fully reopened after vaccinating some 85% of its adult population. Israel faced criticism for not sharing its vaccines with the 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The disparity has played out around the world as the bulk of vaccines went to wealthy countries. As those countries made progress containing their outbreaks, they began pledging supplies for poorer countries that were left behind.
The new Israeli government, which was sworn in on Sunday, said that it would transfer Pfizer vaccines that are close to expiring, and that the Palestinian Authority would reimburse it with a similar number of vaccines when it receives them from the pharmaceutical company in September or October. "We will continue to find effective ways to cooperate for the benefit of people in the region," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted. COGAT, the Israeli military body that coordinates civilian affairs in the occupied territories, said it had coordinated the delivery of the first 100,000 doses to the West Bank on Friday. The Palestinians portrayed the agreement differently, saying Pfizer had suggested the transfer as a way of speeding up its delivery of 4 million doses that the PA had already paid for in an agreement reached directly with the drug company. "This is not an agreement with Israel, but with the Pfizer company," Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said Friday before the deal was called off.
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