Telegraph falsely casts Israel as responsible for Palestinian COVID vaccinations

Last week, we posted about a short article at The Times which falsely suggesting that Israel was responsible for providing COVID-19 vaccinations to Palestinians – and that they were failing to do so.

Yesterday, The Telegraph repeated the Times’ mistake, in an otherwise unproblematic article (“The world’s fastest Covid inoculation drive: Israel vaccinates half a million in nine days”, Dec. 29) by Middle East correspondent Abbie Cheeseman – a piece which ended with the following sentence:

Israel’s vaccination programme covers all Israeli citizens over 16 but currently excludes the millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Here’s a brief recap of our rebuttal to The Times’ piece, which is similarly relevant to the Telegraph article:and

  • The PA Ministry of Health is responsible, by virtue of the Oslo Accords, for health care, including vaccinations, in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • The PA hasn’t approached Israel for help in obtaining COVID vaccines, and their officials have stated that they don’t expect help from Jerusalem.
  • The PA claims to have acquired enough for their population from foreign countries.
  • Efforts to coordinate Israeli-Palestinian cooperation on procuring vaccines for Palestinians was damaged by the Palestinian decision to cut off all coordination with Israel.

However, there’s one more element of bias we should point out: the absence of any stand-alone articles by The Telegraph or The Times – or, as far as we’re aware, other British media outlets – focusing on how the Palestinian Authority has dealt with their population’s COVID-19 crisis, and, more recently, their vaccination program.

If journalists would indeed focus on the PA’s response to COVID-19, perhaps readers would learn of the PA’s stubborn insistence on devoting limited resources to paying salaries to Palestinian terrorists – funds which could instead be allocated to COVID-19 related public health needs, such as testing and vaccinations.

This absence of coverage regarding the decisions of Palestinian leaders, and the policies they enact, stemming – we’ve often argued – from their failure to assign Palestinians agency, represents one of the foreign media’s biggest failures when covering Israel and the Palestinian territories.

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