TEL AVIV – The Palestinian Authority has refused to accept a shipment of aid against coronavirus sent by the United Arab Emirates because the PA “doesn’t want to serve as a bridge for the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel,” the Palestinian news agency Maan reported on Thursday.
“We refused the aid from the UAE because it wasn’t coordinated through us or any of our systems,” Health Minister Mai Alkaila said at a press briefing in Bethlehem on Thursday. “We are an authority and have our sovereignty and we can’t have our sovereignty and we can’t accept such aid without coordinating with us.”
A history-making flight carrying the medical supplies became the first commercial flight between Israel and the UAE.
The rare Etihad airways flight was carrying 14 tons of PPE, including “10 ventilators that are acutely needed,” according to a joint statement from the UAE and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
How awful. The Palestinian Authority has rejected the UAE shipment of #Covid_19 supplies “because the authority doesn’t want to serve as a bridge for the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel.” https://t.co/vMeWtELCm0 pic.twitter.com/6j3fxgNiPy
— Avi Kaner (@AviKaner) May 21, 2020
Palestinian media, as well as Russia Today Arabic, cited a Palestinian official as saying the PA declined to receive the aid because it was refusing to be used as a “tool for normalization” between Israel and the UAE.
The two countries do not have diplomatic relations but there have been several instances of warming relations in recent years.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the act as a betrayal of the Palestinians.
“Today, some Persian Gulf states have committed the biggest treachery against their own history and the history of the Arab world,” Khamenei tweeted. “They have betrayed #Palestine by supporting Israel. Will the nations of these states tolerate their leaders’ betrayal?”
Today, some Persian Gulf states have committed the biggest treachery against their own history and the history of the Arab world. They have betrayed #Palestine by supporting Israel. Will the nations of these states tolerate their leaders’ betrayal?
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 19, 2020
The U.N was slated to receive the supplies and distribute them in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The West Bank and Gaza have confirmed 388 coronavirus cases, and two people have died from COVID-19.