US offers funds to vaccinate Palestinians

·1-min read

The United States said Thursday it was providing $15 million to help vaccinate Palestinians against Covid-19 as Israel comes under criticism for not making greater efforts in the occupied territories.

The US Agency for International Development is providing the funding for vaccination efforts by non-governmental Catholic Relief Services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as for emergency food assistance, the State Department said.

"This small step in advancing the well-being of the Palestinian people is fully in keeping with American values," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The step comes as President Joe Biden resumes humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians in a shift from the hawkishly pro-Israel stance of his predecessor Donald Trump.

Israel has been a leader in inoculating its own citizens against Covid-19, with more than half of its population receiving both doses of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine.

The Palestinian Authority has been far slower, relying on donations and limited supplies from Israel.

Israel has vaccinated more than 100,000 Palestinian workers with permits to enter Israel or Jewish settlements on the West Bank but says that vaccinations are the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.

The United Nations has said it plans to deliver enough doses to inoculate one million Palestinians through the Covax program for developing countries.