June 18 (UPI) -- The Palestinian Authority on Friday cancelled an agreement under which it was to receive at least 1 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Israel.
Israel began delivering the initial doses earlier in the day as part of a deal in which the Palestinian Authority would essentially pay back the vaccines to Israel at a later date.
In exchange, when the Palestinian Authority receives a scheduled shipment of 1.4 million of the Pfizer doses later in the year, 1 million were to go to Israel.
But shortly after the first 90,000 doses were delivered, Palestinian officials declared the deal was off. They said an examination of the doses revealed technical problems with the vaccine, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
''After medical and technical teams received and inspected the first batch, and it was found that the doses did not conform to the technical specifications as previously agreed upon, and that their expiry date was close,'' Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila told reporters in Ramallah.
''Hence, we reached out to Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, and a decision was made to cancel the deal.''
The initial batch of the cancelled deal was returned to Israel, government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said.
Israel has seen success in its vaccination campaign, driving the number of new COVID-19 cases down since the first vaccinations began a few months ago. About 56.9% of Israel's residents have been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
The move comes after a chorus of criticism last year was aimed at Israel for allegedly violating international law by withholding vaccines from Palestine. A group of Democrats in the U.S. House called for Israel to properly vaccinate its neighbors.
Around 100,000 Palestinians working in Israel were vaccinated earlier this year and 10,000 others received a Russian vaccine.
Israeli officials had said the deal allowed for Israel to offload vaccines closer to expiration dates.
"Coronavirus does not recognize borders or differentiate between nations," Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said, according to The Jerusalem Post. "This important move is in the interest of all sides. I hope and believe this move will promote cooperation between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors in other areas, as well."
Critics showed their disapproval of Israel's actions in not moving sooner to ensure vaccines were provided to its Palestinian neighbors.
"Instead of taking responsibility and providing vaccines without delay to the entire population and without unnecessary calculations, Israel is making deals with the lives and health of millions of people," Ghada Majadli of Physicians for Human Rights said.