At 4 PM on Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to discuss a joint initiative to build a facility for Covid-19 vaccine research, development, and production. At 5 PM, Netanyahu, Kurz, and Frederiksen will issue statements and half an hour later will hold an expanded working meeting with their professional staff members.
Looks like a done deal, going by the official schedule issued by Netanyahu’s office.
Frederiksen told reporters in Copenhagen on Tuesday that partnering on a vaccine plant with Israel “isn’t an unrealistic scenario,” adding: “I want to increase capacity and that can be in direct cooperation where we – either in Denmark or in Israel, or elsewhere – physically support production facilities.”
But Frederiksen is under pressure from her political allies to abandon her plans to collaborate with Israel on a vaccine and pay attention to the needs of the Palestinians instead.
The daily Politiken published an editorial titled: “Israel’s apartheid vaccination policy is a disgrace. Mette Frederiksen should condemn it – not beg vaccines of Israel.”
Now there’s an unbiased opinion.
Politiken is a broadsheet loosely affiliated with the Danish Social Liberal Party. Frederiksen leads the Social Democrats, and has referred to Islam as a barrier to the integration of refugees in her country because some Muslims “do not respect the Danish judicial system,” some Muslim women refuse to work for religious reasons, and Muslim girls are subject to “massive social control.” She has called for Muslim schools to be closed in Denmark.
MP Søren Søndergaard, a spokesman for foreign affairs for the leftwing Red-Green Alliance group, which supports Frederiksen’s minority government, said Denmark should not support “Israel’s occupation and policies of apartheid” just because of the PM’s urge to deliver vaccines to the Danish public.
“We should not rely on Israel, an occupier of 54 years, to produce vaccines for us. Apartheid and global solidarity in the time of the pandemic do not go hand in hand,” Søndergaard said, “Instead, we should demand of Israel to provide the Palestinians with the vaccines, which they have a rightful claim to.”
Incidentally, someone should tell Mr. Søndergaard that as of Sunday, Israel’s health ministry begins a vaccination campaign for Arab workers residing in the PA who hold a valid employment license in Israel and in the settlements.
Austrian Chancellor Kurz said, “We must prepare ourselves for the outbreak of other mutations and that also means that we cannot only rely on the EU for the manufacture of second-generation vaccinations.”
You can hate Netanyahu or love him, the fact is that he has established Israel as a kind of agent for both Pfizer and Moderna, the two current leaders in making vaccines for a sick planet. Frederiksen told Danish TV on the eve of her visit to Jerusalem that “Israel is in the forefront of the struggle against Covid. Long-term strategic cooperation could be of critical importance in gaining control over the virus.”
“If I only could, I would come back from Israel with a plane full of vaccine doses,” she said.
According to Bloomberg’s global tracker, the EU is way behind the US and the UK in its vaccination efforts: only 7.5 doses per 100 EU residents. It’s pitiful, which is why many EU members have turned to Israel for help.
Or, as Frederiksen put it: “I am starting to think of vaccinations and re-vaccinations against Covid-19 as something that will take place over a 3-10 year horizon. Israel is also willing to make a long-term plan, that is why I’m joining this cooperation.”
What can I say? Give it up for Bibi…