UAE Overturns Death Sentence for Israeli Accused of Drug Smuggling

Fida Kiwan, a Haifa resident, was arrested with cocaine in her bag while in the Gulf state

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Dubai airport, last year.
Dubai airport, last year.Credit: Kamran Jebreili/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The United Arab Emirates has canceled a death sentence issued earlier this year to an Israeli woman who was convicted of cocaine possession, her lawyer said Tuesday.

The legal proceedings in Fida Kiwan's case are still ongoing, according to lawyer Tami Ulman, and her sentence has yet to be determined.

Fida Kiwan

The case was a potential test of ties between the two countries, which normalized relations in 2020, in the first of the so-called Abraham Accords between Israel and four Arab countries brokered by the Trump administration.

Israel's Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej thanked the Emirati authorities, calling the UAE "our true friend" in a Twitter message, also featuring a photo of him alongside UAE's ambassador to Israel.

Kiwan, a 43-year-old owner of a photography studio from Haifa, was arrested a year ago after authorities found half a kilogram (over 1 pound) of cocaine in her bag while she was in the Gulf state. She was sentenced to death for drug smuggling, an accusation she denies.

She came to Dubai for a photography gig, and was staying in an apartment that had been rented for her to work out of by a Palestinian from the Ramallah area. After staying there a few days, the Dubai police came to the apartment and conducted a search. They found drugs in her bag and arrested her.

Kiwan denied that she was trafficking drugs and claims that the drugs were planted in her bag and in the apartment.

In April, Kiwan's family members reached out to Arab lawmakers as well as Amnesty International in order to have her sentence lightened.

Ayman Odeh, lawmaker and head 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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