Israel’s vaccine efforts are incomplete until they include Palestinians

About 10 years ago, my mother’s oldest brother was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder. In most countries, this would be a daunting but manageable diagnosis. My uncle, however, lives in Nablus, a city in the occupied West Bank. Despite having access to the best medical care available in the Palestinian territories, the prognosis was grim. After months of waiting, preparing paperwork and enduring many scary moments, he received a coveted medical permit to be admitted to a hospital in Israel less than 30 miles away. Within weeks, he was walking again.

The typical perception of the relationship between the Palestinian territories and Israel is of two neighboring states in a conflict over land. Yet, as news has broken about Israel’s highly effective vaccination program, which has reached nearly 15 percent of its population in less than a month — but no more than 100 Palestinians outside of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem — the reality obscured by this basic framing has become evident. The truth is that Palestinians depend on Israel for lifesaving medical care not because of poverty but because of politics.

Read Yasa Asi’s op-ed at the Washington Post.

Yara M. Asi, PhD, is Non-resident fellow at Arab Center Washington DC. To learn more about Yara and read her publications. click here