Palestinian PM Says Not Informed of New UAE Aid Flight Via Israel

(Reuters/Hamodia) -
Still image taken from video footage shows a state-owned Etihad plane from the United Arab Emirates, after landing at Ben Gurion Airport carrying medical aid for Palestinians, Tuesday. (Israel Airport Authority/Handout via Reuters)

Israel’s late Foreign Minister Abba Eban once remarked that the Palestinians “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” and it seems that even when offered help by fellow Arabs, they’ll find an excuse to turn down any offer of assistance.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday he was unaware that a plane from the United Arab Emirates was to fly to Israel carrying medical aid for the Palestinians.

His remarks, after the flight was announced by Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, cast doubt over whether the Palestinians would accept the supplies.

The Palestinian Authority is sensitive about attempts to direct aid or assistance to areas under its limited self-rule without its knowledge and coordination.

The Palestinians, who typically receive aid via Jordan, Egypt or Israel, rejected a similar shipment of medical supplies to combat the coronavirus on May 19, saying it had not been coordinated with them.

“If any country, whether Arab or European or international country wants to help us, we welcome that. We don’t say no – as long as it is not conditional and as long as it is fully coordinated with us,” Shtayyeh told reporters in Ramallah.

The aid was coordinated through the United Nations, which was handling the logistics, the UAE Foreign Ministry said.

“The UAE’s only concern is to support the Palestinian people through this challenging period, in line with its historic support,” it said.

State-owned Etihad also operated the May 19 flight, the first known flight by a UAE airline to Israel.

Aid would be transferred to Gaza and the West Bank by the U.N. and a unit of Israel‘s Defense Ministry, Israel‘s Foreign Ministry said.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with the Gulf Arab countries and there are no commercial flights between them. But shared concerns over Iran’s regional influence have led to a discreet thaw in ties.