Israel postpones drive to vaccinate Palestinian workers

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Israeli musician Ivri Lider perform in front of audience during a performance where all guests were required to show “green passport” proof of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination or full recovery from the virus at a soccer stadium in Tel Aviv, Friday, March. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel on Friday postponed plans to vaccinate Palestinians who work inside the country and its West Bank settlements until further notice.

COGAT, the Israeli military agency coordinating day-to-day affairs with the Palestinian Authority, attributed the postponement to “administrative delays,” adding that a new start date for the campaign would be determined later.

The vaccination program was supposed to begin on Sunday at West Bank crossings into Israel and at Israeli industrial zones.

Such inoculations could have assuaged criticism of Israel for not sharing significant amounts of its vaccine stockpiles with Palestinians living under Israeli control in the West Bank and those in the Gaza Strip — even as Israel succeeded in launching one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world.

Israel had also announced plans to share surplus vaccines with far-flung allies in Africa, Europe and Latin America, but the decision was frozen by legal questions. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with leaders of Denmark and Austria said the three nations would join forces in the fight against COVID-19 with an investment in research and roll-out of vaccines.

Some 100,000 Palestinian laborers from the West Bank work in Israel. The PA had acquired enough dose for only 6,000 of its people — meaning the vast majority of the estimated 7 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will remain unvaccinated.

The West Bank was placed under new restrictive measures last week to curb the surge in infections.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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