Israel Health Minister Yuli Edelstein
© Rambam spokesperson
Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein
Andrew Marr of the BBC grilled Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein about why Israel is not extending its vaccination program to the Palestinian people in territories it occupies, and Edelstein said Israel has no more obligation to them than the Palestinian minister of health has to "take care of dolphins in the Mediterranean." Yes, you heard that right.

Here's the exchange. It's amazing that American media are covering Israeli vaccination rates as if they're some kind of model. (Richard Engel of NBC, among others).

Marr: The United Nations says it's your legal obligation to make sure the Palestinian people under occupation have a swift and equitable access to covid-19 vaccines. Why aren't you doing this?

Edelstein: As far as the vaccination is concerned, I think that it's a Israeli obligation first and foremost to its citizens. They pay taxes for that, don't they? But having said that, I do remember that it's our interest - not our legal obligation - that it's our interest to make sure that the Palestinians get the vaccine and they won't have the covid-19 spreading.

Marr: I understand that, but the Palestinians have asked you for vaccines and you haven't given them some, and under the Geneva Convention, the 4th Geneval Convention, Israel is required to do so. I can read it back. Article 56 says that Israel 'must adopt and supply the prophylactic and preventative measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics in cooperation with local authorities.' Now, that means the vaccine. Why aren't you giving them the vaccine?

Edelstein: I would say that first of all we can also look into the so-called Oslo Agreements where it says loud and clear that Palestinians have to take care of their own health.

Marr: Again, I'm sorry to interrupt but the United Nations says that international law should supersede the Oslo Agreements on this.

Edelstein: If it is the responsibility of the Israeli Health Minister to take care of the Palestinians what exactly is the responsibility of the Palestinian Health Minister? To take care of the dolphins in the Mediterranean?

Marr: I'm so sorry. Let me put it to you that many of your own citizens also think you should be doing more. There was a petition by 200 rabbis which says: 'Judaism teaches a moral imperative not to show indifference as our neighbour suffers but rather to mobilise and offer help in times of need.' The rabbis are right aren't they?

Edelstein: The rabbis are always right I guess, but I would definitely say that that is exactly why when the Palestinians turn to us in terms of health with their medical teams I authorised passing some vaccines to those medical teams who directly work with corona patients in the Palestinian authority, and as you can hear from this interview it's not because I think that we have a legal obligation, it's because I understand that there are doctors and nurses that they don't get the vaccine at this stage.
Years ago after an Israeli massacre in Gaza, Jimmy Carter said that Israel treats Gazans like animals, and he was denounced as an antisemite; well here it is from the horse's mouth.

And, It's impossible to imagine an American broadcast journalist being this hard on the Israeli health minister. Though that day is approaching. The contradiction between U.S. moves on diversity/equity and the special relationship with a Jewish-supremacist regime will be overwhelming in the Biden era. Any health official who used language like this would lose their job in the U.S.