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World

Jordan presses Israel to vaccinate Palestinians

  • Some 2.8 million Palestinians live under occupation in the West Bank while two million pack the impoverished, Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.
Published January 28, 2021

AMMAN: Jordan's King Abdullah II said Thursday Israel's failure to provide vaccines to Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank or blockaded in the Gaza Strip was counterproductive for the Jewish state.

"The Israelis have had a very successful rollout of the vaccine, however the Palestinians have not," Abdullah told the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"You cannot vaccinate one part of your society and not the other and think that you are going to be safe," he said via videoconference. "That is the number one lesson that COVID-19 taught us."

Israel launched its vaccination drive a month ago. Since then nearly 2.8 million of its nine-million population have received a first jab, with half of that number already getting the second dose too.

And although Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank are being inoculated, Palestinians are not, prompting sharp criticism from human rights groups and the Palestinians themselves.

Earlier this month the Palestine Liberation Organisation urged the international community "to hold Israel to account" and ensure that it provides vaccines to all Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

Abdullah said Thursday that the novel coronavirus "does not care about borders, the rich or the poor or whoever."

"We have got to look at the practicalities and the challenges that are ahead of us, to be able to communicate with each other and realise that we are one world, one small village," he said.

Some 2.8 million Palestinians live under occupation in the West Bank while two million pack the impoverished, Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

In mid-January, under pressure from rights groups, the Israel Prison Service said it had begun vaccinating all its detainees, including the estimated 4,400 Palestinians held in its jails.

Jordan, which is home to Palestinian, Syrian and Iraqi refugees, launched its own vaccination campaign earlier this month.

It says it hopes to provide free vaccines to a quarter of the country's 10 million population, including foreign residents.

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