Israel will deliver 700,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to South Korea after the Palestinian Authority backed out of a deal with the Jewish state to receive them.
Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett announced the agreement on Tuesday, saying South Korea would receive soon-to-expire Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses and repay Israel with doses of its own from future orders.
"This is a win-win deal," Bennett said in a statement. "Together we will beat the pandemic."
The Palestinian Authority agreed to accept around one million doses from Israel for distribution to residents of the West Bank under a similar deal in mid-June. But the terror-sponsoring government pulled out of the deal hours after receiving the first batch of doses, claiming the doses were set to expire too soon.
Israel dismissed the Palestinian Authority's concerns, saying doses are effective close to their expiration date. Israel's Ministry of Health said the doses, which had expiration dates in late June, were "identical in every way to the vaccines currently being given to citizens of Israel" and that the Palestinians knew when they would expire ahead of time.
Israeli officials reportedly said the doses, which were not immediately returned by the Palestinian Authority, would likely be thrown out.
South Korea will use its shipment of doses to hasten immunization efforts as the country experiences a surge in infections around the capital city, according to Reuters.
About 8 percent of Gaza and West Bank residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times, while Israel has vaccinated 57 percent of its citizens.