A large shipment of coronavirus aid sent for Palestinians by the United Arab Emirates government on a flight that landed in Tel Aviv has been declined by the Palestinian Authority on the grounds that it ‘normalised’ relations with Israel.
An Etihad Airlines plane delivered 14 tons of medical equipment – including ventilator masks – meant for distribution to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.
But on Thursday at a press briefing in Bethlehem, the Health Minister Mai Alkaila confirmed that the aid supplies had been refused because the PA did not want to serve as a bridge for the normalisation of ties between the UAE and Israel.
“We are an authority and have our sovereignty and we can’t accept such aid without coordinating with us, ‘’ added the Health Minister.
“We refused the aid from the UAE because it wasn’t coordinated through us or any of our systems.”
Palestinian media also quoted another government source in Ramallah saying the PA were refusing to be used as a ‘’tool for normalisation’’ between Israel and the UAE.
The previously unheard of flight between the two countries touched down at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday evening.
While Israel and the UAE do not have official diplomatic relations, a shared distrust of Iran has brought much closer ties.
An Israeli official confirmed this week’s flight was delivering humanitarian aid provided by the UAE to the Palestinians through the World Food Program, and that the cargo flight was coordinated with the Israeli government.
After the flight touched down a joint statement from the UAE government and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process confirmed that the shipment included ‘’acutely needed’’ venillators.
The cargo was intended to be handed over to the UN and distributed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Earlier this week, in a response to an Israeli plan to annex West Bank settlements, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that his government is no longer bound by agreements and understandings with Israel.