Israel plans to transfer some 1.2 million Pfizer vaccines to the Palestinians in the coming days to help them with their floundering coronavirus vaccination campaign, Haaretz reported on Thursday.
The move was decided during a meeting Thursday between new Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and senior Health Ministry officials and comes after Israel faced months of intense criticism for failing to send vaccines to the Palestinians.
The report said that the decision to supply the vaccines had been taken by the previous government under Binyamin Netanyahu, but there had been no follow through on the decision.
The report said the vaccines would be in the form of “a loan,” with Israel to give Ramallah doses from its stockpile of Pfizer vaccines, with the expectation that they would be replenished with doses that the Palestinians have on order.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was expected to make a formal announcement in the coming days, with the transfer happening in coordination with the health and defense ministries, the report said.
Last month, Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy urged Israel to help vaccinate the Palestinians, saying that failing to do so risked undermining the gains of Israel’s own vaccination drive.
“We need to help the Palestinians and quickly assist their vaccination program because it can affect the morbidity here among us,” said Levy.
“We have to give or sell our stockpiles of vaccines that we have, or help them find vaccines,” he said.
“As soon as a [government] decision is made, we will do so quickly,” he said.
While Israel has launched a world-beating vaccination drive, the Palestinian Authority is struggling to vaccinate its population.
According to the PA Health Ministry as of this week, 436,275 people had received at least one dose, with some 260,000 having received both doses.
Those figures include the more than 100,000 Palestinian workers that Israel has vaccinated since March, as they come into regular contact with Israelis at their workplaces.
It also includes some 52,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have been vaccinated.