LONDON: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is under pressure to stop working with Israel for the acquisition of vaccines against the coronavirus (COVID-19), it was learned on Wednesday.
Frederiksen’s political allies demanded that Israel’s surplus vaccine be handed over to the Palestinians instead.
She is due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Thursday to discuss a joint vaccine production project to tackle future variants of COVID-19.
Copenhagen and Vienna have both criticized the European Union’s vaccine rollout as “too slow”, so Frederiksen is considering other options.
Before leaving for Tel Aviv, Frederiksen said she planned to discuss with Netanyahu the possibility of funding new factories and purchasing excess doses of Israel’s vaccination program, reported the Guardian.
“I’m not ruling out any idea, not even building factories,” Frederiksen said. “We are happy to buy vaccines from countries that cannot use them, either because they do not have the time to deploy them at the same rate as us, or for other reasons.”
The Israeli vaccine rollout has been hailed internationally as more than half of all adults have received a dose. However, Netanyahu has come under heavy criticism for only approving doses for Palestinians last Sunday.
Human rights groups have stressed that international law requires Israel to provide Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with the same access to vaccines as Israeli citizens.
The Palestinian Authority said it received only 2,000 doses from Israel and 10,000 more from Russia.
Frederiksen faces pressure in Denmark to withdraw from relations with Netanyahu.
Søren Søndergaard, a member of Parliament for the country’s Red-Green Alliance, which supports the Social Democratic minority government in Frederiksen, said: “We should not rely on Israel to produce vaccines for us.
“It would be a historic mistake for Denmark to cooperate with Israel as long as it does not respect its obligations under international law. Instead, we should demand that Israel provide the Palestinians with the vaccines to which they are entitled.