JERUSALEM, Israel – The Palestinian Authority is refusing to accept a 16-ton shipment of coronavirus aid sent by the United Arab Emirates on a historic flight to Israel this week.
“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 conference in Bethlehem on Thursday. “We are an authority and have our sovereignty and we can’t accept such aid without coordinating with us.”
The shipment included protective gear, medical equipment, ventilators and other vital supplies and was meant for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority will not accept the shipment because it does not want to be a tool for normalizing ties between Israelis and the UAE.
While the UAE and Israel have no official diplomatic ties, the direct flight from Abu Dahabi to Tel Aviv was a rare public moment of cooperation. For years, rumors have swarmed that the two nations are having back-channel discussions, especially over their common enemy – Iran.
Relations between the UAE and Israel appear to be warming.
Israeli officials have been allowed to visit the UAE. Emirati officials also allowed the Israeli national anthem to be played after Israeli won gold in an Abu Dhabi judo tournament. Israel has a small mission representing the Jewish State’s interests at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi.
Next year, Israel will participate in the delayed Expo 2020 fair being hosted in Dubai. Practicing Jews in Dubai pray at a secret synagogue there, and the UAE announced plans to build the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi. This project will house a mosque, a church and a synagogue.
Israelis with western passports regularly enter the UAE without incident.