LONDON: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is under pressure to stop working with Israel on acquiring coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, it was reported on Wednesday.
Frederiksen’s political allies demanded that Israel’s vaccine surplus should be given to Palestinians instead.
She is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday along with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to discuss a joint vaccine production project to battle future COVID-19 variants.
Copenhagen and Vienna both criticized the European Union’s rollout of the vaccines as being “too slow,” so Frederiksen is looking at other options.
Before she left for Tel Aviv, Frederiksen said she planned to talk with Netanyahu about the possibility of financing new factories and purchasing surplus doses from Israel’s vaccination program, the Guardian reported.
“I do not rule out any ideas, not even to build factories,” Frederiksen said. “We are happy to buy vaccines from countries that cannot use them, either because they do not have time to roll them out at the same rate as us or for other reasons.”
Israel’s vaccine rollout has been praised internationally as more than half of all adults have received a dose. However, Netanyahu was criticized heavily for only approving doses for Palestinians last Sunday.
Human rights groups pointed out that international law requires Israel to provide Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza the same access to vaccines as Israeli citizens.
The Palestinian Authority said it has received only 2,000 doses from Israel and another 10,000 from Russia.
Frederiksen is facing pressure in Denmark to step back from dealing with Netanyahu.
Søren Søndergaard, an MP with the country’s Red-Green Alliance Group, which supports Frederiksen’s minority Social Democrat government, 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 live up to its obligations under international law. Instead, we should demand that Israel provides the Palestinians with the vaccines, which they have a rightful claim to.”