Jewish Voice For Peace and Israel’s ‘Medical Apartheid’

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Jewish Voice for Peace is an anti-Israel pro-Palestinian group of far-left Jews that has become ever more absurd in the charges it flings at the Jewish state. Recently its Pittsburgh chapter accused Israel of “medical apartheid,” by which it meant Israel’s failure to fulfill its supposed “duty” to vaccinate the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. A report on this latest baseless charge is here.

The Pittsburgh branch of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) recently circulated a petition that claims that Israel’s alleged refusal to vaccinate Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is “medical apartheid” — even though these Palestinians are not citizens of Israel and live under the purview of their own independent governments [the PA in the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza] — which said they did not want the COVID vaccine from Israel.

In the early days of the vaccine distribution, Israel offered to help vaccinate some Palestinians. It supplied the Palestinian Authority with 5,000 does for medical personnel. But the PA rebuffed Israel when it promised to make more doses available, instead insisting it could take care of vaccinating its population by itself and didn’t want any help from Israel. A senior official with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health said that “the Palestinians do not expect Israel to sell them, or purchase on their behalf, the vaccine from any country.”

The official told the Jerusalem Post that “the Palestinians will soon receive nearly four million Russian-made vaccines against COVID-19.”

Another PA Ministry of Health official said that he expected vaccinations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to begin next month [in January 2021]. He, too, clarified that the PA has not asked Israel to supply the Palestinians with the vaccine. We are working on our own to obtain the vaccine from a number of sources,” the official added. “We are not a department in the Israeli Defense Ministry. We have our own government and Ministry of Health, and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.”

That turned out to be mere bravado, and the PA then changed its tune, suddenly charging Israel “with a duty to vaccinate the Palestinians.”

JVP’s national organization has employed this “medical apartheid” myth repeatedly.

The Pittsburgh petition claims that “The US funds Israel’s system of separate-and-unequal control” over the West Bank and Gaza, and that Israel is obligated to vaccinate Palestinians under international law. But Palestinians are not citizens of Israel — and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is the entity ultimately responsible for procuring vaccines for its residents.

Israel’s responsibility is to vaccinate its own citizens, just like every other country in the world. Its duty ends there. The Israeli government rolled out one of the most successful vaccination programs in history — and offered the vaccine to every single Israeli citizen regardless of race or ethnicity.

Israel has no duty – none – to vaccinate any of the Palestinians. This was set down unambiguously in the Oslo Accords that were signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the 1990s.

Here is the text of Article 17 of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (“the Interim Agreement”), signed in September 1995, that establishes the respective duties of each party in terms of health care:

Health care, and specifically the vaccination of the Palestinian population, is under the purview of the PA. Israel and the PA agreed to cooperate and exchange information between health systems, and specifically with regards to epidemics and contagious diseases:

  1. Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side, including the health insurance system.
  2. The Palestinian side shall continue to apply the present standards of vaccination of Palestinians and shall improve them according to internationally accepted standards in the field, taking into account WHO recommendations. In this regard, the Palestinian side shall continue the vaccination of the population with the vaccines listed in Schedule 3.

Got that, Jewish Voice for Peace, Pittsburgh Chapter? Read it again: Oslo Accords, 1995, Article 17, pps. 1 and 2.

The PA has its own vaccination program and initially refused any cooperation with Israel’s efforts to procure vaccines. Israel has, of course, from the very beginning of the pandemic been supplying the Palestinians with face masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators, and other medical equipment which the Jewish Voice for Peace (Pittsburgh chapter) seem unaware of.

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