In a case that put the two nations’ fledgling relations to the test, Israeli officials said Sunday that the United Arab Emirates had pardoned an Israeli woman after initially putting her to death for drug use.
In Early January 2021, according to Israeli media, Fida Kiwan was detained with half a kilogram (more than 1 pound) of cocaine that she claimed didn’t belong to her. The death penalty was later commuted to life in jail in the UAE, which has strict drug prohibitions.
According to Lior Haiat, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Kiwan returned to Israel throughout Saturday night following the pardon.
Isaac Herzog, the ceremonial president of Israel, requested that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan release her, and Al Nahyan obliged “as a gesture of goodwill,” according to Herzog’s office.
UAE officials did not immediately respond with any comments.
Kiwan was apprehended shortly after the Abraham Accords, agreements negotiated by the United States to improve relations between Israel and the UAE.
Since then, relations between the nations have improved significantly, with trade increasing and a surge in Israeli tourists visiting opulent Dubai.
Israeli media claim that Kiwan, who reportedly runs a photography studio in the Israeli city of Haifa in the north, traveled to Dubai at the invitation of a Palestinian friend. As the drugs were found while searching her flat, she was taken into custody shortly after.
For several crimes, notably drug smuggling, the United Arab Emirates still imposes the death penalty. The last death sentence carried out by firing squad against a man convicted of kidnapping, raping, and killing an 8-year-old boy occurred in 2017.
Executions are still uncommon in the federation of seven sheikhdoms, nevertheless.