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Israel to transfer 1m covid vaccines to Palestine in exchange deal

Paramedics vaccinate elderly people nursing home in Tel Aviv on 13 January 2021 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency]
Paramedics vaccinate people in Tel Aviv on 13 January 2021 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency]

The new Israeli government said it would transfer over a million Pfizer coronavirus vaccines to Palestine on condition of having the same number returned later this year, local media reported.

The deal would see the Palestinian Authorithy (PA) providing Israel with doses when it receives its share from the pharmaceutical company in September or October.

Up to 1.4 million doses could be exchanged, the government said in a statement.

"We will continue to find effective ways to cooperate for the benefit of people in the region," Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted after the deal was announced.

Israel, which has fully reopened after vaccinating some 85 per cent of its adult population, has faced criticism for medical apartheid and not sharing its vaccines with the 4.5 million Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

Rights groups have said that Israel, as an occupying power, is obliged to provide vaccines to the Palestinians.

Israel denies having such an obligation, pointing to interim peace agreements reached with the Palestinians in the 1990s.

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