TEL AVIV - Israel's health ministry insisted Saturday that a shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses the Palestinians rejected as about to expire were "completely valid."
The Palestinian Authority called off a deal Friday that would have seen Israel provide it with 1 million jabs in exchange for doses from Pfizer that the Palestinians are scheduled to receive later this year.
PA spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said an initial delivery of 90,000 Pfizer doses failed to conform "to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement."
"The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire," Melhem said, in a statement carried by the official WAFA news agency.
The Israeli health ministry said the vaccines it delivered were "completely valid," although the prime minister's office acknowledged Friday they were "about to expire," without specifying the use-by date.
"The Palestinian health ministry received Pfizer vaccines that were valid, with expiration dates that were known, agreed on and that matched the agreement between the two sides," the ministry said.
Israel has launched a sweeping vaccination campaign after obtaining millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
More than 55 percent of Israel's population - 5.1 million people - has received both doses of the vaccine.
Far fewer Palestinians - just over 270,000 people - have received their two doses in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.