Palestinian Authority Cancels Vaccine Swap Deal with Israel

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The Palestinian Authority canceled an agreement to exchange Covid-19 vaccines with Israel, saying the doses it was set to receive were about to expire.

Palestinian officials were expecting the doses to be good until August but instead received batches that expire this month, not leaving the Health Ministry enough time to use the shots for its population, Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said at a press conference on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, the office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel had agreed to send about one million Pfizer Inc. doses close to expiry to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar number of vaccines from the next Pfizer shipment earmarked for the Palestinians in September and October.

Israel, which had raced ahead of all countries in vaccinating its population, has also faced criticism for not helping to quell the virus in the occupied Palestinian territories. About 10% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been vaccinated, some with more than 200,000 doses provided by the World Health Organization, and another approximately 100,000 laborers who work in Israel and were inoculated there.

New cases in the West Bank have dropped dramatically in recent weeks as vaccinations gather pace. The governor of Bethlehem said on Thursday that the city is ready to receive tourists.

Israel exited from lockdown in March after cases plummeted. More than half the population is inoculated, most restrictions have been removed and the virus remains contained with 237 active cases.

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