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Two European Countries to build up a ‘vaccine alliance’ with Israel

EU's plan B strategy under pressure amid growing anxiety over slow vaccination process

Jerusalem24 – Austria and Denmark intend to forge a “vaccine alliance” with Israel to fight future waves of the coronavirus, while Slovakia announced that it is buying 2 Million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen are travelling to Jerusalem this week to discuss a new joint-approach with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

An Austrian chancellery official familiar with the plans said that at the core of the discussions were plans to construct in-country production facilities for mRNA vaccines. The three countries are in talks with Pfizer and Moderna about the factories.

Austria has already identified an intended site for manufacture, the official added, indicating the extent to which the scheme is already well-advanced.

The three will also discussed pooling vaccine stockpiles, although the sharing of surplus vaccine supplies is likely to be a sensitive topic. Sharing small shipments of excess supplies of vaccine with allies has already caused some political turbulence in Israel. The EU, in common with countries such as the UK and US, has measures in place that allow it to curb vaccine exports.

The planned “alliance” threatens to undercut the EU’s collective vaccine procurement run jointly by the European Commission and member states. The commission also said it had not been informed of the Austrian and Danish plans and so was not in a position to comment.

3 months into 2021 and Israel has already vaccinated half of its population, being the leading country in the vaccination process in the world, but still failing to adhere to its obligations and vaccinate the population it occupies yet signing agreements with other countries to send the leftovers.

According to Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Center, Israel is ultimately responsible for the supply of vaccines for Palestinians. As the occupying power, Israel has the duty to ensure civil life in the opt, which includes public health. More specifically, Art. 55 GCIV makes clear that the occupying power has “the duty of ensuring medical supplies” of the local population. Medical supplies include vaccines (as well as injection supplies, protective personal equipment, etc.), and this obligation concerns the whole population of the occupied territories. Israel is obliged to make COVID-19 vaccines available to Palestinians also pursuant to Art. 12 of the ICESCR.

Noting that The Oslo Accords have no bearing whatsoever on Israel’s obligations under IHL. As GCIV makes clear, Palestinians cannot be deprived of the protection of the Convention by any agreement concluded between the occupying power and the authorities of the occupied territory. Thus, the Oslo Accords do not nullify nor displace Israel’s IHL obligations as an occupying power; they merely clarify how Israel is to discharge these obligations. In Oslo, it was agreed that some governmental functions, including as they relate to health, would be assumed by the Palestinian side. Nonetheless, Israel remains the duty bearer under IHL.

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