Netanyahu’s Plan to Send COVID-19 Vaccines Abroad Halted After Legal, Political Challenges

Israel has halted all shipments of COVID-19 vaccines abroad, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said on Thursday, adding that he was looking into the legality of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to send vaccines to foreign countries.

Mendelblit said he was told by Israel’s National Security Council all shipments have been stopped, pending a legal review of the scheme, which critics argue Netanyahu has no authority to approve.

– Why Israeli-Russian politicians are flirting with the anti-vax vote. LISTEN

Why Israeli-Russian politicians are flirting with the anti-vax vote. LISTEN

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat has asked Mendeblit to rule whether Netanyahu can order the transfer of vaccines purchased with Israeli tax-payers' money without a cabinet approval.

Gantz tweeted in support of the attorney general's decision, writing that "the move carried out by Netanyahu was undemocratic, and he sidestepped regulations."

Earlier on Thursday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz asked Netanyahu to immediately stop the process of sending coronavirus vaccines purchased by Israel to foreign countries – and to convene the security cabinet for an urgent meeting on the matter.

Vials containing the vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are seen at a temporary Clalit healthcare maintenance organisation (HMO) centre, where the vaccine is administered. Amir Cohen / Reuters

In a letter to Netanyahu, the national security adviser and attorney general, Gantz wrote that "while the supply of vaccines to medical staff in the Palestinian Authority was transferred in an orderly fashion, paired with the need for the vaccines here in Israel, supplying vaccines to other countries around the world has never been brought up for discussion in the relevant forums.”

“The vaccines are the property of the State of Israel and when you said that ‘unused vaccine doses have accumulated,’ while most of the population of Israel has not yet been vaccinated with the second dose, is false,” said Gantz.