Israel signs Pfizer deal; Pompeo to visit Golan Heights: Israel Update

November 13, 2020

Israel signed a deal with Pfizer to preorder 8 million doses of the forthcoming coronavirus vaccine, with initial shipments set to arrive in January, Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced. Israel purchased enough of the vaccine to inoculate four million citizens, with the expectation that the vaccine will continue to be delivered throughout 2021, the health minister said, pending it's approval by the US FDA and Israel's Health Ministry. The dramatic development came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the government and the pharmaceutical giant had reached an agreement. Pfizer announced Monday that initial data indicated the vaccine it is developing—with German partner BioNTech—is 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19, sparking hope that inoculations against the novel coronavirus could soon be available.


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to visit the Golan Heights and the West Bank settlement of Psagot, during his visit to Israel next week. The trip would make Pompeo the first US secretary of state to visit either the Golan Heights or a West Bank settlement while on an official visit to Israel. Pompeo is expected to visit the Psagot Winery in the West Bank, as well as Jesus’ baptismal site in the Jordan Valley. It is particularly significant that Pompeo has chosen the Psagot Winery, considering it lost a case before the European Union’s top court on the issue of product labelling.


The municipality of Jerusalem has approved the construction of 108 housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem—a plan similar to those that, in the past, caused concern in Washington. One source said that more building projects may be approved before Biden—now the US president-elect—is sworn in at the beginning of next year. The housing approved Tuesday is to be built in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, an area that a decade ago became the focus of a disagreement between Israel and the US. In 2010, plans for 1,600 new homes in Ramat Shlomo were announced during a visit by Joe Biden, who was then the US vice president. The declaration embarrassed Mr. Biden, since Washington was opposed to Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, an area Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.


The Health Ministry reported Wednesday evening that 665 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus since Tuesday, when 41,498 individuals were screened. Some 305 patients were in serious condition Wednesday night, including 132 intubated patients. The death toll rose to 2,699 with 16 new deaths. Ministers ended a meeting on Thursday without decisions being made on the future of the current eight-week-long national lockdown, despite a wide variety of proposals that included calls to reopen schools serving fifth and sixth graders, and appeals to begin evening-hour curfews to prevent mass events.



The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. This page has been developed to help our community stay informed about efforts to support the community during this time. This page will be continually updated. 


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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