The Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that it was unaware of the arrival of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) plane carrying humanitarian aid for the Palestinians at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Earlier, Palestinian sources said that the PA refused to receive the UAE aid because it was being transmitted through Israel.
According to the sources, the PA was outraged because the UAE chose to deliver the aid through Israel, and not directly to the Palestinians. Some PA officials and political activists accused the UAE of “promoting normalization” with Israel by allowing the plane to land at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The Etihad Airlines flight, direct from Abu Dhabi, landed in Israel on Tuesday night and was the first flight ever from the UAE to Israel. The cargo flight carried humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 16 tons of medical supplies, personal protective equipment and 10 ventilators. The aid is in line with the United Nations COVID-19 Response Plan for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shatayyeh told reporters in Ramallah that the Palestinians were unaware of the arrival of the UAE aid at Ben-Gurion Airport.
“We have heard in the news that there is a United Arab Emirates plane carrying medical supplies to the Palestinians,” Shtayyeh said. “This issue has never been coordinated with us and we have never been notified about it. Our ambassador in the United Arab Emirates does not know about it. It was not coordinated with us at all.”
Relations between the PA and UAE have been strained over the Gulf state’s embracing of former Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan, an arch-rival of Abbas.
Dahlan, a former PA security commander, has been residing in the UAE since 2011 and works as an advisor to the ruling Al-Nahyan family. He fled to the UAE after falling out with Abbas and his two sons. The PA has accused Dahlan of financial corruption and, at the request of Abbas, he was expelled from Fatah.
Meanwhile, Shtayyeh and other Palestinian officials insisted that the Palestinians were serious about walking away from all the agreements with Israel and halting security coordination between the PA security forces and the IDF. According to the officials, PA ministries and security forces have been instructed to start working towards implementing Abbas’s decision.
Shtayyeh explained on Thursday that the Palestinians have decided that they won’t abide by the agreements “because Israel has violated all of them.” He also reaffirmed the Palestinians’ commitment to the two-state solution.
Shtayyeh was speaking to reporters after meeting with Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorf, head of the European Union Representative Office to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Shtayyeh thanked Europe for its financial and political support for the Palestinians. “I want to assure you that we are going to be committed to reaching a peaceful solution for a two-state solution,” he said. “Israel, by announcing this annexation, violates international law and all agreements that have been signed with us. This annexation has to do with the destruction of a future possibility of a Palestinian state. We have called for an international conference and we keep the door open for peace. We want to see a real move from bilateral talks to multilateral talks, from an American monopoly over the peace process to a multilateral forum.”
Burgsdorf said that the EU state members “express solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of the threat of [Israeli] annexation.
“We note with utmost concern the provision as communicated on May 17, when the new Israeli government was sworn in, that parts of the occupied West Bank may be annexed,” Burgsdorf said. “As you now, this runs counter to international law, violates existing agreements and is not in line with international resolutions. For us, it’s of utmost importance to uphold international law. We stand by our understanding that any solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs to be done on a negotiated basis and in full agreement with the international parameters. The European Union stands ready to support such a process.”
On Wednesday night, Shtayyeh said that his government would work on “translating [Abbas’s] decision on the ground.”
Speaking during an emergency meeting of the PA government in Ramallah, he voiced support for Abbas’s announcement that the Palestinians are “absolved” of all the signed agreements and understandings with Israel and the US.
Abbas made his announcement during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on Tuesday night to discuss the Palestinians’ response to Israel’s plan to extend Israeli law to parts of the West Bank. “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones,” Abbas said.
Palestinians pointed out that Abbas and PLO and Fatah bodies had made similar threats at least 11 times since 2015 and said they were skeptical whether the words would be translated into deeds.
“It is the Israeli government that ended all security, political, economic, and legal agreements, and therefore it is inconceivable to maintain a unilateral commitment,” Shtayyeh said during the PA government meeting.
He accused Israel of “violating all agreements by annexation, colonization, the siege on the Gaza Strip and abuse of prisoners and their allocations, Jerusalem and water.”
The plan to extend Israeli law to parts of the West Bank, Shtayyeh argued, “is a violation of our signed agreements with Israel, a violation of international law and international legitimacy, and a threat to regional and international security.”
The plan, he added, “reflects the agenda of the government coalition in Israel, which systematically works to destroy the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Noting that many in the international community support the Palestinian position rejecting the Israeli plan and US President Donald Trump’s vision for peace in the Middle East, Shtayyeh called on the world’s countries and “all those who believe in the two-state solution to recognize Palestine,” adding that “denouncements and condemnation statements are not enough.”
Osama Qawassmeh, a spokesperson for the ruling Fatah faction, dismissed claims by many Palestinians that Abbas was not serious about carrying out his threat to cut all ties with Israel.
Qawassmeh said that Abbas’s decision would be immediately implemented. “This is not a tactical move,” he added.