Mohammad Dahlan, who fell out with Abbas and was dismissed from the president’s Fatah party more than a decade ago, took credit for securing the shipment to Gaza from the UAE, where he lives in exile.
In a potential challenge to Abbas, Dahlan has announced plans to field a list of candidates he dubs “Fatah reformists” in a parliamentary election scheduled for May.
The vaccine shipment brought to 60,000 the number of Sputnik V doses that Dahlan has obtained for Palestinians since February, outpacing official Palestinian authorities.
Dahlan, in a statement, said the latest doses “aim to afford protection for our courageous medical teams and people with priority … particularly the elderly and those suffering from certain (chronic) diseases”.
He said half of the new shipment would be allocated to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has limited self-rule.
Minister Al-Keela said that she had discussed the matter with President Abbas, who informed her that he personally would prefer to die of Coronavirus than to receive the “political vaccine” coming from Dahlan and the UAE.
The President statement came after many authorities confirmed that he personally was one of the first Palestinian figures that received the vaccine several months ago.
Gaza has registered more than 56,000 COVID-19 cases with 564 deaths among a population of two million.
The Palestinian Authority plans to cover 20% of Palestinians through the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme. But on Wednesday, the Palestinian health minister said COVAX shipments expected in March had been postponed until May.
Farid Mahdawi, the Palestinian Ambassador to China, told Voice of Palestine Radio on Thursday that 50,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, half of the doses pledged by Beijing, would arrive in the West Bank within days.