The Invention of a Legal Obligation for Israel to Vaccinate Palestinians Betrays Resentment at the Successes of the Jewish State

March 25 2021

On March 12, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, and two other senators sent a formal letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to pressure Jerusalem into providing vaccines to Palestinians, claiming that the Jewish state has a duty to do so under international law. Other members of Congress have made similar statements as well. But, Eugene Kontorovich explains, international law requires no such thing:

The central source of international law is treaties—agreements between the parties. While treaties often do not address many specific questions, in this case, there is a clearly applicable international agreement that directly addresses the vaccine issue—the Oslo Accords. . . . Oslo provides that “Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian sides.” It also makes clear that this includes vaccination.

Because Oslo directly contradicts their claim, the vaccination-obligation exponents base their argument exclusively on Article 56 of the [1950] Fourth Geneva Convention, which was quoted extensively in the senators’ letter. . . . First, the contention that the Geneva Convention supplants Oslo is preposterous—it makes much of the latter agreement a dead letter, something none of these “experts” argued when Oslo was first signed. But even if one thinks the Geneva Convention is relevant, it clearly does not require Israel to supply the Palestinians with vaccines.

Kontorovich shows in detail why this is so, and then turns to the question of how such baseless interpretations get passed off as international law by people who should know better:

The claim of Israeli responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinian populace was never made before Israel achieved global renown for its rapid vaccine rollout program. The accusations against Israel now are designed to besmirch and belittle this remarkable achievement. But absolutely nothing in the Geneva Convention says that [Palestinian must be vaccinated at] the speed of the fastest country on earth. This idea is baseless and preposterous. In fact, the Palestinian Authority is receiving vaccines at roughly the same speed as are comparable governments.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Bernie Sanders, Coronavirus, Elizabeth Warren, International Law, Oslo Accords, Palestinians

Israel’s Friendship with Iraqi Kurds, and Why Iran Opposes It

In May 2022, the Iraqi parliament passed a law “criminalizing normalization and establishment of relations with the Zionist entity,” banning even public discussion of ending the country’s 76-year state of war with Israel. The bill was a response to a conference, held a few months prior, addressing just that subject. Although the gathering attracted members of various religious and ethnic groups, it is no coincidence, writes Suzan Quitaz, that it took place in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan:

Himdad Mustafa, an independent researcher based in Erbil, to whom the law would be applied, noted: “When 300 people gathered in Erbil calling for peace and normalization with Israel, the Iraqi government immediately passed a law criminalizing ties with Israel and Israelis. The law is clearly aimed at Kurds.” . . . Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (Coordination Framework), a powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militia, slammed the conference as “disgraceful.”

Himdad explains that the criminalization of Israeli-Kurdish ties is primarily driven by “Kurd-phobia,” and that Kurd-hatred and anti-Semitism go hand-in-hand.

One reason for that is the long history of cooperation Israel and the Kurds of Iraq; another is the conflict between the Kurdish local government and the Iran-backed militias who increasingly control the rest of the country. Quitaz elaborates:

Israel also maintains economic ties with Kurdistan, purchasing Kurdish oil despite objections from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad. A report in the Financial Times discusses investments by many Israeli companies in energy, development sectors, and communications projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to providing security training and purchasing oil. Moreover, in a poll conducted in 2009 in Iraqi Kurdistan, 71 percent of Kurds supported normalization with Israel. The results are unsurprising since, historically, Israel has had cordial ties with the Kurds in a generally hostile region where Jews and Kurds have fought against the odds with the same Arab enemy in their struggles for a homeland.

The Iranian regime, through its proxies in the Iraqi government, is the most significant source of Kurd-phobia in Iraq and the driving factor fueling tensions. In addition to their explicit threat to Israel, Iranian officials frequently threaten the Kurdish region, and repeatedly accuse the Kurds of working with Israel.

Read more at Jersualem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Iraq, Israel-Arab relations, Kurds