Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (330)

Joe O'Brien


330. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the ongoing lack of Covid-19 vaccines in areas of Palestine under Israeli occupation; his views on whether this situation will affect the operation of the EU-Israel trade agreement, particularly with regard to article 2 of the treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8064/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland is playing its full part as member of the global health community to establish facilities and oversight mechanisms to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all. The World Health Organisation, as the lead UN agency for health, is central to this effort: in recognition of this critical role, Ireland quadrupled support to WHO in 2020. Ireland is a member of the ACT Accelerator global initiative, which aims to harmonise the global vaccine rollout. A critical pillar of this initiative, COVAX, aims to deliver 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021 to support 92 low and middle-income countries, and has negotiated options on a further 1 billion doses. On 3 February COVAX confirmed the occupied Palestinian territory as one of 18 priority participants for rollout of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines in Q1 and Q2 2021. Ireland has budgeted €50 million for Global Health in 2021 including initiatives to support equitable access to vaccines, including through the COVAX initiative.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have responsibilities to ensure the welfare of citizens in the occupied Palestinian territory. Ending the worst effects of the pandemic for all requires constructive cooperation to support timely, effective and unimpeded vaccination in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and I continue to encourage those efforts. My officials continue to monitor this issue and engage together with the EU on supporting vaccination efforts in the occupied Palestinian territory. The EU-Israel Euro Mediterranean Association Agreement provides a framework for reaction by either Party in the case that it considers that the other Party has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Agreement. Such a consideration is for EU Member States to agree together, as party to the Agreement. Ireland continues to raise human rights issues of concern through the most appropriate and effective channels, including with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.