(JTA) — Joaquin Castro, a top foreign policy Democrat in the House, has joined a handful of other Democrats in criticizing Israel for not supplying Palestinians with the coronavirus vaccine.
“I commend Israel for leading the world on vaccinating its people, but I’m disappointed and concerned by their government’s exclusion of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation from these vaccination efforts, despite making COVID vaccines available to Israeli settlers in the West Bank,” Castrol, of Texas, told Haaretz this week.
Castro’s criticism is significant: He is considered one of the leaders of the party’s progressive wing and vice chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi picked Castro this week to be one of nine impeachment managers taking the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment of former President Donald Trump to the Senate for trial in February.
A number of other Democrats, including Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Jamaal Bowman of New York and Marie Newman of Illinois, have also criticized Israel for excluding the Palestinians, as has J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. Tlaib, a Palestinian American who noted her West Bank grandmother’s vulnerability to the virus, called Israel “racist,” drawing rebukes from Jewish groups and some other Democrats.
Israel says it is not required to vaccinate West Bank Palestinians under international law and prior agreements with the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority leadership has said it prefers to receive vaccines from other sources.