Netanyahu Halts Deliveries of Covid Vaccine Abroad

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Under fire from Defense Minister Benny Gantz and others, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ has suspended the transfer of coronavirus vaccines to other countries, according to media reports on Thursday evening.

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo and Israel Ambassador to Guatemala Mattanya Cohen attend a ceremony after the arrival of a batch of the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines at the Guatemalan Air Force base in Guatemala City, Thursday. (Reuters/Luis Echeverria)

The decision followed a written query from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat asking for clarifications about the program, which was prompted by Gantz’s demand that the shipments stop so that the security cabinet can discuss the matter. Gantz and other senior officials said on Wednesday that they had not been consulted by the prime minister prior to the decision.

Earlier on Thursday it was reported that a plane carrying vaccines from Israel landed in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. Honduras was one of nineteen countries said to be on a list of recipients for vaccine supplies in return for improving diplomatic ties with Israel.

Netanyahu has said that the vaccines come from Israeli surpluses and that it will not affect the program to vaccinate the entire population.

In answer to a question about it on Thursday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that only a few thousand doses have been transferred and that none of them were of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine used to inoculate Israelis so far.