Published: 27 October 2021


Yara Dahdal 1,

Nadav Davidovitch 2,

Michael Gilmont 3,

Javier Lezaun 4,

Maya Negev 5,*,

Deborah Sandler 6,7 and

Mohammed Shaheen 8


In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a faceless, non-adversarial threat that endangered Israelis and Palestinians with the same ferocity. However, the capacities of the health systems to address it were not equal, with Israel more equipped for the outbreak with infrastructure, resources, manpower and later, vaccines. The pandemic demonstrated the life-saving benefits of cooperation and the self-defeating harms brought by non-cooperation. These trends are explored here by an international team of public health and environmental scholars, including those from different sides of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. This article explores the importance of recognizing the Israeli and Palestinian jurisdictions as a single epidemiological unit, and illustrates how doing so is a pragmatic positioning that can serve self-interest. We demonstrate how despite political shocks precipitating non-cooperation, there has been a recurrent tendency towards limited cooperation. The paper concludes with lessons over the need for reframing public health as a potential bridge, the need for structural changes creating sustainable platforms for accelerated transboundary cooperation to enable the steady management of current and future public and environmental health crises regardless of dynamic political crises, and the importance of civil society and international organizations in forging collaboration in advance of governmental engagement. View Full-Text