An otherwise unproblematic and, in fact, interesting Telegraph article (“The world’s fastest Covid inoculation drive: Israel vaccinates half a million in nine days”, Dec. 29) concluded 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.
We contacted Telegraph editors to express two main concerns with the sentence:
First, it falsely suggests that it’s Israel’s responsibility to vaccinate Palestinians.
As we made clear in yesterday’s post about this Telegraph piece, under Oslo, the responsibility for healthcare (including vaccinations) falls under the Palestinian Authority. Further, Palestinian leaders have stated publicly that they “do not expect Israel to sell them, or purchase on their behalf, the vaccine from any country”, and that the PA will soon receive millions of vaccines from the US, UK, China and Russia.
The other element of the sentence we argued was substantively misleading is the claim that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank live “under Israeli control”. Whilst the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank (in Area A) are governed by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, Gaza, which Israel totally withdrew from in 2005, is of course governed by Hamas.
They upheld most of our complaint, and revised the sentence erroneously suggesting Israeli control over Gaza and West Bank Palestinians.
Here’s the new sentence:
Israel’s vaccination programme covers all Israeli citizens over 16 but currently excludes the millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Hamas led Gaza Strip.
Whilst they unfortunately didn’t delete the part sentence misleadingly suggesting that Jerusalem was responsible for providing Ramallah with COVID-19 vaccines, they did add the following additional sentence, which at least partially acknowledges the PA’s role in addressing Palestinian vaccine needs.
The Palestinian Authority hopes to receive vaccines through a WHO-led partnership with the humanitarian organisation known as Covax.