Why the Palestinian Authority Abrogated the Israeli Vaccine Agreement – Analysis

The Palestinian Authority’s hasty decision on Friday to cancel Pfizer’s vaccine exchange with Israel came shortly after public outcry, particularly on social media, over the expiration date of the cans. The violent reactions from the Palestinian public prompted PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila and PA government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem to hold an urgent press conference to explain the circumstances of the “vaccine scandal” received earlier in the day would be returned to Israel become. They claimed the PA was unaware that the vaccines were about to expire. Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA General Authority of Civil Affairs, which serves as the link between the Palestinians and Israel, distanced himself from the agreement. In response to claims that he was behind the agreement with Israel, al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter: “Some media outlets have spread false news about the vaccine from Israel. Civil affairs have nothing to do with this file and it does not come under their jurisdiction. ”On Sunday, many Palestinians continued to call for an independent commission of inquiry to be set up to investigate the vaccine deal fiasco. They said the “scandal” was another sign of rampant corruption and a lack of transparency and accountability in the PA. As for the leadership of the PA, the mistake couldn’t have come at a worse time.An opinion poll by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Political and Poll Research showed support for the PA’s main rival, Hamas, since the last war between the terrorist group from Gaza and Israel has increased dramatically. The poll also showed that 84% of Palestinians believe there is corruption in PA institutions.

Judging by the reactions of many Palestinians to the Pfizer Exchange Agreement, they appear to be convinced that corrupt senior PA officials have worked with the Israeli authorities to make obsolete vaccines available to the Palestinian public. It was hard to find a Palestinian who came to defend the PA or believe the statements made by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. For its part, the PA leadership cannot afford to be seen by its people and other Arabs as accomplices in a plot to inject illegal vaccines into Palestinians. This was the second vaccination-related “scandal” to hit the PA since early 2021. A similar public outcry broke out last March after the Palestinians learned that the PA had redirected some COVID-19 vaccines to senior Palestinian officials, journalists and people connected with the PA. The PA has also been widely criticized by many Palestinians for its handling of vaccine distribution in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Following the March “scandal”, several Palestinian civil society organizations called for the establishment of a committee of inquiry into the distribution of vaccines. “Incoming information and testimony show that there are still many” [personalities] Receiving the vaccine in disregard of the principle of distribution priorities, which include medical staff, the elderly and patients, ”said a joint statement from the organizations. They also accused the PA of “neglecting the principles of transparency regarding coronavirus vaccination, which has created fertile ground for favoritism and ignores public interest”. about vaccinating the Palestinians. One reason many Palestinians have been outraged in the past 48 hours is because they first heard about the Pfizer barter through the Israeli media. Israeli media have long served the Palestinians as the main source of information about what is going on in the PA. The PA has long been criticized by many Palestinians not only for corruption, but also for its continued security coordination with Israel in the West Bank. During last month’s Israel-Hamas war, the PA was also attacked by many Palestinians for failing to make serious efforts to help the Palestinians in Gaza for the Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections, which are taking place on May 22nd and July 31st should. The vaccination deal with Israel was intended to strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s already tarnished reputation and show that it is doing everything it can to provide the Palestinians with the appropriate doses. The PA hoped the vaccines would reduce the number of coronavirus infections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, help Palestinians return to normal life and improve the Palestinian economy, thereby increasing the reputation of Abbas and the PA leadership But the botched deal has proven to be one of the worst public relations disasters for the PA, whose leaders are currently working to limit the damage and their critics and political rivals to capitalize on the “scandal.”

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