UAE drops death sentence for Israeli woman in drug case

JERUSALEM (AP) — The United Arab Emirates have canceled a death sentence handed down earlier this year against an Israeli woman convicted of cocaine possession, her lawyer said Tuesday.

The case was a possible 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.

Fida Kiwan, a 43-year-old resident of the northern Israeli city of Haifa, was convicted in April. Israeli news site Ynet said at the time that Kiwan was arrested on March 21, 2021 with half a kilogram of cocaine that it said did not belong to her.

Mordechai Tzivin, an Israeli lawyer representing her, said the death sentence had been revoked on appeal, but she was likely to face another long prison term.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli or Emirati authorities.

Normalization has turned glitzy Dubai into a free-wheeling Israeli tourist destination. Israel’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, have met with their counterparts in the Gulf state, and the UAE was part of an unprecedented meeting of Arab and Israeli foreign ministers in Israel’s Negev desert earlier this year. .

Israel’s foreign ministry has said it is monitoring the matter 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 time later after a search of her apartment turned up the drugs.

The UAE is one of the world’s most restrictive countries when it comes to people importing and possessing drugs, including substances for personal use such as cannabis and even over-the-counter medicines such as narcotics.

Trafficking in human beings usually carries a life sentence and possession a shorter prison sentence. Although UAE law allows the death penalty in certain cases, the death penalty is rarely carried out. The last known executions were in 2011 and 2014 against two men convicted of murder.

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