Palestinian Authority Rejects Arab Aid That Landed in Israel

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas / Getty Images
May 21, 2020

The Palestinian Authority is refusing 16 tons of coronavirus aid sent by the United Arab Emirates because it first landed in Israel.

The UAE made history Wednesday when it landed its first ever flight in Israel, a sign of normalization with the Jewish state that had seemed impossible given the Arab nation's rejection of formal ties with Jerusalem. The flight was carrying emergency aid products for Palestinians as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Palestinian leaders immediately refused to take the aid, citing the UAE's decision to work with Israel.

Palestinian rejection of the aid came on the same day leaders announced a complete cutoff of long-running security cooperation with Israel, a move that threatens to throw the Palestinian-controlled territories into further chaos and thwart Israel's counterterrorism operations.

Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei also criticized the UAE, accusing it of "treachery" against fellow Arab nations.

"Today, some Persian Gulf states have committed the biggest treachery against their own history and the history of the Arab world," Khamenei wrote on Twitter. "They have betrayed Palestine by supporting Israel. Will the nations of these states tolerate their leaders' betrayal?"

The United States expressed surprise at the Palestinians' move, which comes as the Trump administration pursues a peace deal that many view as dead on arrival.

"I'm not exactly sure what to make of his statement, but I regret that he has decided to abrogate these agreements," Pompeo told reporters on Wednesday, referring to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's announcement about an end to security cooperation.

Pompeo would not say if he had spoken to Palestinian leaders about the decision, but maintained the United States would continue to pursue its vision for peace.