Israeli on UAE Death Row Won't Be Executed, Official Says, and Arrest Is No Diplomatic Crisis

Israeli officials don't believe claims Fida Kiwan was framed for drug smuggling, but Israel is working to reduce the prison sentence she is expected to serve

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File photo: A Dubai court, in 2010.
File photo: A Dubai court, in 2010.Credit: AFP

Fida Kiwan, the Israeli woman sentenced to death for drug smuggling in the United Arab Emirates will not be executed but will serve a prison sentence instead, a senior Israeli official said.

Kiwan was convicted last week for drug trafficking and sentenced to death.

Israel does not view her arrest and conviction as a diplomatic crisis but as a criminal incident, and the matter did not come up in the conversations between Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and other senior Israeli diplomats and their counterparts in the UAE.

Fida Kiwan.Credit: Facebook

Israeli officials with knowledge of the affair do not expect political leaders to take action for her release from prison and deportation to Israel, as happened in the case of Naama Issachar, who was jailed in Russia for drug offenses and released after 10 months in Russian prison.

According to one source, this is because officials believe that Kiwan, convicted of a major offense, was not framed, as she claims. However, Israel is working to reduce the sentence as part of the appeal process.

Kiwan was caught selling drugs to an undercover police officer, her verdict says. Three other people questioned by the local police told them they had bought drugs from her.

The Foreign Ministry learned of Kiwan’s arrest about a year ago, and ministry representatives remained in contact with her through the criminal process, also helping her family to visit her.

Kiwan's family members reached out to Arab Knesset members as well as Amnesty International in order to have her sentence lightened. The nonprofit organization has not yet decided whether to intervene in her case.

Ayman Odeh, Knesset member and chairman of the Joint List party, said regarding the case that "We are working with every relevant official in order to cancel the sentence of Fida Kiwan and to save her life. He added that he called President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and requested that they intervene.

Nearly 300 Israelis are currently imprisoned in prisons around the world after being convicted of various offenses, including drug trafficking, fraud, theft and rape.

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