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The Palestinian Authority had a clear plan for obtaining vaccines against COVID-19 for its population. While Israel made arrangements with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, the P.A. contracted with Russia for enough of the Sputnik V vaccine for 50 percent of West Bank and Gaza residents. It later requested financial support from the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment, a global mechanism to deliver vaccines to poorer countries.

However, two developments at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 caused a marked shift in policy from Palestinian officials, who suddenly demanded that Israel provide them with vaccines.

First, Israel started getting positive attention around the world for its impressively efficient rollout of the vaccine. Israel bought large numbers of doses relative to population size, and in contrast to the sloth-like distribution in every other Western country, quickly vaccinated frontline health workers and the elderly, and is now on to the rest of the over-16 population. This has corresponded with delays in the Russian delivery of vaccines to the Palestinians.

Second, a network of advocacy NGOs began a campaign alleging that Israel has a legal and moral obligation to vaccinate Palestinians alongside Israelis. In their political war, any good press for Israel is considered a loss for Palestinians.