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The New Arab Staff

Winston Churchill's grandson deplores Israel's refusal to vaccinate Palestinians against coronavirus

Nicholas Soames is a known friend of Palestine [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 January, 2021

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Sir Nicholas Soames and Sir Alan Duncan published a letter in which they deplored Israel's refusal to vaccinate Palestinians against coronavirus.
The grandson of Winston Churchill has reviled Israel's refusal to vaccinate Palestinians against the Covid-19 virus.

Former MP Sir Nicholas Soames joined fellow veteran politican Sir Alan Duncan in a letter published in The Telegraph, in which they asserted Israel’s “legal obligation” to vaccinate Palestinians against coronavirus.

Israel has “rightly earned many plaudits for having vaccinated its own people so quickly against the coronavirus”, they said, adding that “regrettably, that is where its moral advantage collides horribly with its further conduct" in refernece to treatment of Palestinians.

Israel “is prepared to vaccinate Palestinians in East Jerusalem, in the half of the city that is claimed by Israel but is not theirs, and it is also delivering the vaccine to illegal Israeli settlers in Palestine," they urged.

“But Israel declines to administer this lifesaver to Palestinians living in their own country, despite its legal obligation to do so as the occupying power."

Under Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law specifically includes a duty to maintain “public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”

Both Conservative Party politicians, who have in the past condemned Israel's actions against Palestinians, said no "rational person" can support Israel's current actions.

“It is difficult to understand how any rational person can support this unjustifiable differentiation between populations."

“Whatever the divisions of the past, surely any civilised country should see the catastrophe of a global pandemic as an opportunity to unite across borders and put aside differences for the sake of humanity.”

Both politicans stood down from their positions ahead of the 2019 elections and are known for being pro-Palestine voices within the party.

Last year, Soames co-signed a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding that the government make clear its intention to impose sanctions on Israel if it presses ahead with plans to annex occupied Palestinian territory.

Refusing to vaccinate

Multiple rights groups across the world, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, called on Israel to start vaccinating Palestinains as cases continue to rise.

The Palestinian health ministry has confirmed more than 100,000 cases in the West Bank, including 1,100 deaths. In the besieged Gaza Strip, there were 43,134 cases, with 404 fatalities.

Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, according to human rights groups.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.

While the Palestinian Authority has limited authority in some areas of the West Bank and a Hamas-led administration exists in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch has pointed out that Israel is still an occupying power in both territories, because it controls borders, access, supply, and other key aspects of life. 

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