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Palestine rejects UAE aid delivered on first direct flight to Israel

Emirates plane at the airport [Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency]
Emirates plane at the airport, 5 January 2018 [Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency]

The Palestinian government has refused medical aid transported by air through Israel by the UAE.

The UN-facilitated flight carrying coronavirus supplies was delivered by an Etihad Airways plane that flew from the UAE to Tel Aviv, a controversial move. The UAE does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, however, shared concerns over Iran's influence in the region have led to a discrete thaw in ties between Israel and the Arab Gulf in recent years.

"The UAE authorities did not coordinate with the State of Palestine before sending the aid," the government sources said, adding that "Palestinians refuse to be a bridge [for Arab countries] seeking to have normalised ties with Israel."

They asserted that any assistance meant to be sent to the Palestinian people should be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority first.

READ: Um Haroon and the politics of normalisation in the Gulf

"Sending them directly to Israel constitutes a cover for normalisation," they added.

In a tweet yesterday, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the first commercial flight between the two countries as a form of "treachery" and a "betrayal" to the Palestinian cause, as he accused them of normalising relations with Israel.

He wrote: "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."

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