If you haven't been living under a rock, you've been following the constant news cycle over the coronavirus in the past few weeks. A global pandemic, this virus has flipped American society on it's head - in fact, I write this blog post from my own home in the middle of a school day. The coronavirus has torn apart this world, but a silver lining has appeared in the edges of this news cycle - cooperation. Two peoples, those of Israel and Palestine, are beginning to work together on several fronts in an effort to fight the virus. PA government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem revealed that Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the government technically in power over the West Bank territory, have set up a joint operations room to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Milhem elaborated to the press this past week that "Our shared borders and relations do not leave room for hesitation to take severe measures and cooperate on the highest levels to prevent the spread of the virus."
More importantly, Israel is regarded, and economically is, more technologically advanced in the medical field, but has been reluctant to share such advancements with Palestine. In this time of crisis, however, Israel has delivered 200 coronavirus test kits to the PA Ministry of Health, with the samples taken from Palestinians suspected of having contracted the virus even sent to a more advanced Israeli hospital. Maj. Yotam Shefer, head of the international department of the Civil Administration, mentioned joint tutorials and professional medical workshops for Israeli and Palestinian medical staff, where they are given the knowledge regarding the virus and proper tools to fight it. The willingness of Israel to save Palestinian lives, after countless lives had been lost in the past relations between these entities, is undoubtedly something new and exciting.
Most Palestinian citizens in the West Bank see and have seen cooperation with Israel as unnecessary and contrary to their values of morality (according to numerous sources, namely The Jerusalem Post). However, cooperation in the medical field, considering the outbreak of the coronavirus, seems to be acceptable these days to most Palestinians. “Anyone who opposes cooperation with Israel in the medical field would be acting against the interests of our people,” said a PA official in Ramallah. “This is the time to lay aside our differences and work together against the pandemic, which does not distinguish between a Jew and Arab.” It remains to be seen whether this temporary cooperation attitude is temporary, completely superficial in all respects to benefit own interests, or whether it could lead to further cooperation in the future.
Lastly, Palestinian workers employed in agriculture, construction, industry and services are now allowed to enter Israel because of the spread of the virus and are subject to accommodation in Israel for a period of one to two months, which is under the responsibility of Israeli employers. The already fragile Palestinian economy is by no means prepared for such a global economic event, so the choice of migration to Israel provides an economic way out. Now, the fact that a worldwide pandemic so terrible and deadly was needed to bring these two groups together borders on abhorrent, but what we must understand is that this proves cooperation is indeed possible. Will Israel and Palestine remain cooperative with each other in such a fashion past this virus? Does Palestine return to reluctancy to accept help, and Israel reluctant to give it, in the following years? Most importantly, is this cooperation possibly a look at a peaceful future? Leave your predictions based on the region's current response to the epidemic.