February 26, 2021 — New York
This piece originally appeared in The New York Times.
To the Editor:
Re “Israel Vaccines Go to Far-Off Allies Before Palestinians” (news article, Feb. 24):
Palestinian responsibility for and success in acquiring Covid-19 vaccines continues to be ignored.
The Palestinian Authority has been in direct contact with international organizations, countries that are producing vaccines, and pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the population under its rule is inoculated.
In January, the Palestinian health minister, Dr. Mai al-Kaila, said the authority has contracts with four companies producing the vaccine to cover 70 percent of the population, and the World Health Organization will provide for another 20 percent of the population.
Israeli Ministry of Health officials are in regular contact with their Palestinian Authority counterparts. Coordination on addressing the pandemic and meeting myriad other daily needs is a shared priority.
The Palestinian Authority, according to agreements signed with Israel, is responsible for the health of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and thus has not yet asked Israel directly for vaccines. Still, Israel has supplied thousands of vaccines from its supply, while facilitating delivery of the large number of vaccines ordered by the Palestinian Authority.
Harriet P. Schleifer
The writer is president of the American Jewish Committee.