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Israel says it 'can't live' with death sentence for its citizen in UAE

April 6, 2022 at 5:26 pm

UAE and Israeli flags sway in the wind. [KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images]

An Emirati Court has sentenced an Israeli woman to death on drug charges, her lawyer said on Wednesday, as Israel’s Foreign Ministry vowed to work with its new Gulf partner to spare her, Reuters reports.

Fidaa Kiwan was arrested in Dubai last year for allegedly dealing 50 grams (0.11 pounds) of cocaine and 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of marijuana, her lawyer, Tami Ullmann, said.

“The State of Israel cannot live with one of its citizens getting the death sentence – all the more for an offence which is on a scale that, in the State of Israel, would entail receiving a few years (in jail),” Eyal Siso, an official in charge of citizens’ welfare abroad for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told Kan radio.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates normalised relations in a 2020 deal.

While a number of crimes could incur capital punishment in the UAE, such sentences are rarely implemented. The last two publicly reported executions there were in 2015, for a terrorism and murder case, and in 2017, for raping and killing a child.

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The UAE’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

Ullmann said she was working with an attorney based in the UAE to file an appeal in Kiwan’s case, with the goal of reducing her sentence. She has also asked the Israeli Foreign Ministry for help.

In 2020, Israel secured the release of one of its citizens who was sentenced to jail in Russia for drug offences, following a high-profile lobbying campaign.

“It’s Ramadan. We want Fidaa at home,” a childhood friend of the 38-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel told Reuters. “All we want is a pardon, we want her to live.”