Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday acknowledged sharing coronavirus vaccines with a number of friendly countries that have given favors to Israel in the past.
Speaking to reporters, Netanyahu said that Israel has "more than enough" vaccines for its own population, and that he had personally decided to share what he called a symbolic number of doses to reward allies.
"It was done in return for things we already received, through many contacts in various areas that I will not detail here," Netanyahu said. "I think it absolutely buys goodwill."
Netanyahu did not elaborate. But Israeli public broadcaster Kan said a total of roughly 100,000 Moderna vaccines are being shipped to some 15 allies. They include countries that have recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, including Guatemala and Honduras, as well as a number of countries in Africa that have strong or budding ties with Israel.
Netanyahu's comments came at a time when Israel faces international criticism for not doing more to share its vast stockpile of vaccines with the Palestinians.
Under the terms of the Oslo Accords, however, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the healthcare of its own population and has repeatedly said it is obtaining its own vaccines via a UN scheme.
Israel has shared 2,000 doses of vaccines with the Palestinian Authority to innoculate West Bank medical workers. Otherwise, the Palestinians have struggled to procure their own vaccines.
This has drawn attention to the global disparity in obtaining vaccines between rich and poor nations.
UN officials and human rights groups have said that Israel is an occupying power and is responsible for providing vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel stresses it has no such responsibility to cover up for the Palestinian Authority's failings.