The UAE has criticized the Israeli government several times this year, including over its raids in the West Bank, though cooperation between the two countries is continuing.
The United Arab Emirates pledged Thursday to give $15 million to efforts to help rebuild the Palestinian city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank following a major Israeli operation there earlier this week, Emirati state media reported on Thursday.
The UAE will provide the funds to the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA to support the latter’s operations and provide assistance to Palestinian families. The funds are “intended to rehabilitate the losses that have occurred in Jenin and its camp, after the recent Israeli attacks that have had repercussions on thousands of people,” according to the official Emirates News Agency (WAM).
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed informed UNRWA secretary-general Philippe Lazzarini of the pledge in a phone call on Wednesday. The funding will be administered via a joint account in the UAE and came at the direction of UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, according to WAM.
Background: After Israel carried out its largest raid in the West Bank in decades earlier this week, many of Jenin’s roads and homes were left in ruins. The raid, aimed at cracking down on Palestinian militants following an uptick in attacks against Israelis in both Israel and the West Bank (as well as increased Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians in the latter), killed at least 13 Palestinians and one Israeli.
The city has become a battleground in recent months, in part due to the heavy presence of Palestinian armed groups.
Why it matters: The UAE pledging aid to Jenin could be an attempt by the Gulf state to boost its ties with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The UAE has had tumultuous relations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for years. The relationship worsened following the UAE’s normalization of relations with Israel in 2020 via the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which Abbas condemned. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halted plans to annex the West Bank as part of the agreement.
Netanyahu returned to power in late December with a coalition including right-wing Jewish nationalist parties. There has been tension in the UAE-Israel relationship since then. In January, the UAE was among many countries in the region to condemn Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, aka al-Haram al-Sharif, holy site in Jerusalem in January.
The UAE also condemned Israel’s raids in Jenin in March and June, according to the Emirates News Agency.
Know more: Sheikh Abdullah also spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the phone on Wednesday. The two discussed regional issues, but the State Department readout did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict explicitly.
Source: Al Monitor