Monday, January 04, 2021




A couple of weeks ago, a series of NGOs including the Amnesty, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, B'Tselem and even two Palestinian human rights organizations issued a press release demanding that Israel provide vaccines for Palestinians. 

They use poor arguments, most of which I debunked in last night's webcast, but one of them deserves more attention - because it shows how bigoted these groups are against Palestinians.

We express grave concerns about media reports that the Russian-developed vaccine will be delivered to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA has not fully indicated which vaccines it aims to purchase and distribute, although it has made clear that it does not have sufficient funds and capabilities to purchase the necessary vaccinations. Israel cannot transfer a vaccine which is not approved for its own citizens. Such a step would violate the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations and the long-standing policy of the Israeli Ministry of Health to only allow the distribution of medicines in the OPT which have undergone the necessary scientific and regulatory procedures. Although the Paris Protocol has come under criticism in the past for, inter alia, obliging the PA to import medications that are beyond its financial reach, as long as it is binding, Israel cannot import a vaccine that it has not approved for its own population and send it to the occupied population. Israel must ensure that the vaccines delivered to Palestinians in the OPT, also meet the approvals of the Israeli health system, and that these vaccines be purchased and delivered as soon as possible.
What does the Paris Protocol say?

...Both sides will maintain the same import policy (various exceptions) and regulations including classification, valuation and other customs procedures, which are based on the principles governing international codes, and the same policies of import licensing and of standards for imported goods, all as applied by Israel with respect to its importation. Israel may from time to time introduce changes in any of the above, provided that changes in standard requirements will not constitute a non-tariff-barrier and will be based on considerations of health, safety and the protection of the environment in conformity with Article 2.2. of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to trade of the Final Act of the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations. 
So even if this paragraph applies to importing medicines (which is not at all obvious) Israel can change the policy for maintaining public health!

And what does the Agreement on Technical Barriers Article 2.2 say?
Members shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade. For this purpose, technical regulations shall not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfil a legitimate objective, taking account of the risks non-fulfilment would create. Such legitimate objectives are, inter alia: national security requirements; the prevention of deceptive practices; protection of human health or safety, animal or plant life or health, or the environment. In assessing such risks, relevant elements of consideration are, inter alia: available scientific and technical information, related processing technology or intended end-uses of products. 
These very regulations referred to in the Paris Protocols say that Israel should not place any barriers in place to stop Palestinians from getting the medicines they need!

Clearly, when the Palestinians don't have ultra-cold freezers needed to stockpile the Pfizer vaccine , the Russian Sputnik vaccine seems like a viable alternative to help millions of their citizens. The Palestinian Authority has scientists and doctors that can look at the literature and see whether it makes sense to accept the Russian vaccine. Other countries like India have decided that the Russian vaccine is safe enough to rely on. One can argue about the decision, but is hardly irresponsible for leaders to choose the Russian vaccine in the interests of protecting the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. 

But Amnesty and these other NGOs disagree with this. They want to take away Palestinian choice as to how to treat their own people!

If anyone else would say that Palestinians are too immature or too ignorant to decide on how their own health programs should work, they would be rightly considered to be bigots. 

Beyond that, Amnesty and the other NGOs are saying that it is better for Palestinians to wait for Israel to build an entire infrastructure to distribute the Pfizer vaccine, or to wait to receive the Moderna vaccine, than to import the Sputnik vaccine today. Every day a couple of dozen Palestinians are dying of COVID-19 and Amnesty is saying that time is not of the essence to provide vaccines to them, even though the logistics of Israel providing the vaccines in Palestinian areas is enormously expensive and time consuming.

The NGOs even say it is Israel's responsibility to keep the medicines cold:
Ensuring smooth entry of vaccines and other medical equipment to the oPt, including preserving a 'cold chain’ to keep vaccines refrigerated during transit if necessary. 
Ultra-cold freezers aren't exactly available at Best Buy. There are only a couple of manufacturers and they are swamped. It would take months to acquire an adequate supply of this equipment to bring into the territories, by which time there will be other vaccines available that do not require anything colder than a refrigerator. 

This demand, by itself, shows how out of touch these NGOs are - and how willing they are to sacrifice Palestinians as long as they can blame Israel for their deaths.

There is only one conclusion that can be drawn: Amnesty and the other NGOs hate Israel more than they care about Palestinian lives. This demand, by itself, proves how hateful they are both towards Israel and towards Palestinians themselves. 

To call these "human rights "organizations is a sick joke. 




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