Israel Halts Transfer of Vaccines to Other Nations

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein attend the arrival of a plane with a shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, at Ben Gurion airport, near the city of Lod, Israel, January 10, 2021. Motti Millrod/Pool via REUTERS

i24 News – Israel will halt all transfer of coronavirus vaccines to foreign states with immediate effect, health officials said on Thursday.

The announcement follows a statement by Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, who earlier in the day called to convene the Security Cabinet in order to discuss Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to allocate thousands of vaccine doses from Israel’s stocks to friendly countries.

Israel intended to send some 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to 19 foreign nations, according to official sources.

“Making such decisions without approval… raises concerns that it will harm Israel’s foreign relations and national security,” Gantz said. “The supply of vaccines to these countries has never been discussed in the relevant forums. This is not the first time that significant security and policy decisions have been made behind the backs of the relevant authorities.”

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Later Thursday, the Justice Ministry said that following requests from the public to look into the issue, “the attorney general was examining the claim that vaccines were transferred to foreign countries without authority.”

In a statement, the ministry noted that Israel’s National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat had requested the attorney general’s legal opinion on the decision to gift the vaccines.

According to the justice ministry, Ben-Shabbat had informed the attorney general that “an order has already been issued to freeze any activity on the topic.”

Netanyahu earlier this week defended what has been referred to as “vaccine diplomacy,” saying Israel had “unused” Moderna vaccines left over.

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