UAE drops death sentence for Palestinian woman in drug case
Fida Kiwan, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was arrested in Dubai in March 2021 after half a kilogram of cocaine was found at a rented apartment she was staying in. She claimed the cocaine did not belong to her, according to reports.
Fidaa Kiwan's death sentence has been overturned by a UAE appeals court. https://t.co/GgeNYykGqP— Michael Andrew Horovitz (@micklaypicklay) June 28, 2022
The case was a potential test of ties between the two countries, which normalized relations in 2020, in the first of the so-called Abraham Accords between Israel and four Arab countries brokered by the Trump administration.
Mordechai Tzivin, an Israeli lawyer representing her, said the death sentence was dropped on appeal but that she would likely still get a lengthy prison sentence.
There was no immediate comment from Israeli or Emirati authorities.
The UAE's normalization with Israel has turned Dubai into an Israeli tourist destination, and several top Israeli officials have met with their counterparts in the Gulf State.
The deal, dubbed the Abraham Accords, has been slammed by Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause that rewarded Israel while it continued to occupy the West Bank and besiege the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has said it is following the case through its consular department and representatives in the UAE.
Israeli media reported that Kiwan came to Dubai for work at the invitation of a Palestinian acquaintance. She was arrested a short while later after a search of her apartment turned up the drugs.
The UAE is one of the world’s most restrictive nations when it comes to people importing and possessing drugs, including substances for personal use like cannabis and even over-the-counter medications like narcotics.
Trafficking typically carries a life sentence and possession a shorter jail sentence. While UAE law allows for the death penalty in certain cases, capital punishment is rarely carried out. The last known executions were in 2011 and 2014, against two men convicted of murder.