The Palestinian Authority (PA) plans to renew a deal to receive 1.4 million Pfizer vaccines from Israel, after rejecting the original supply due to the vaccines being too close to their expiration date.
According to Wafa news agency, PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila confirmed yesterday that her office would renegotiate with Pfizer and the Israeli Ministry of Health on how to complete the implementation of the agreement in a way that would ensure the safety of the doses.
"We will resume discussions with Pfizer to obtain the vaccines that expire at the end of the month of July as soon as possible, so that we have sufficient time to vaccinate all groups established according to the national vaccination plan," through which the PA hopes to achieve a 70 per cent rate of immunity, Alkaila said.
The initial delivery of Pfizer-BioNtech doses failed to conform "to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement," PA spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem, said.
"The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire," he added.
Among the issues was Israel's objection to signing the agreement with the "State of Palestine", as well as an attempt to prevent the vaccines from going to the Gaza Strip, which was categorically rejected by the Ministry of Health, explained Alkaila.
She stated that the ministry's responsibility includes all Palestinians. "We confirmed that we will send the doses anywhere, and no one imposes his will on this issue," she said.
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.