UAE to donate $3 million to rehabilitate Palestinian town ravaged by settlers

Emirati President bin Zayed pledges cash to repair buildings and property damaged in riot in Huwara last month, after 2 Israeli brothers killed in terror attack there

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, on November 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File)
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, on November 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File)

United Arab Emirates AE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered that $3 million be given to rehabilitate the West Bank Palestinian town of Huwara, where Israeli settlers rampaged last month in revenge for a deadly terror attack.

The money will be used to repair damaged buildings and help those whose property was ruined, UAE state media reported Thursday.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport will work with the Emirati-Palestinian Friendship Club to implement the project.

The London-based The National reported that the department held a meeting to discuss the funds with a Palestinian delegation that include the mayor of Huwara. It did not say when the meeting was held.

Hours after two Israeli brothers were gunned down by a Palestinian terrorist while driving through Huwara, south of Nablus, on February 26, hundreds of settlers went on a destructive rampage through the town, burning homes, cars, and storefronts, and assaulting Palestinians, leading to scores of injuries and the death of a Palestinian man in unclear circumstances. Palestinians say he was shot.

The IDF general in charge of troops in the West Bank said the vigilante settlers carried out a “pogrom.”

Settlers pray as cars and homes burn in the West Bank town of Huwara on February 26, 2023. (Screenshot/Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The UAE — which is serving as Arab League’s representative on the United Nations Security Council — requested an emergency meeting of the forum in the wake of the attack, amid spiraling violence in the West Bank.

Days later, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich caused outrage by calling for “wiping out” Huwara. Amid local and international condemnation he later retracted the comment.

At the time, the UAE issued a statement condemning Smotrich’s “racist comments” and affirming its “rejection of all practices and behaviors that contradict moral and human values ​​and principles.”

On Sunday, Israeli officials denied a Channel 12 report that the UAE intends to suspend certain defense purchases from Israel due to some of the Israeli government’s actions and statements.

According to the unsourced report, the UAE has pointed particularly to incendiary comments and behavior from far-right ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Smotrich, as well as recent West Bank violence and the Huwara rampage. Ben Gvir, a disciple of the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, is the national security minister.

Channel 12 quoted UAE leader Al Nahyan as saying that “until we can ascertain that Prime Minister Netanyahu has a government that he can control, we can’t work together.”

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a strong denial, calling the report “baseless” and saying that Israel and the UAE are constantly holding “fruitful diplomatic contact… including today.” The Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement, calling relations “strong.”

Israel and the UAE normalized ties in the Abraham Accords of 2020.

Though in January Netanyahu’s office confirmed he was to make an official visit to the UAE, predicting even that it could be as soon as later that month, no such trip has yet materialized. Since returning to office at the beginning of the year, the prime minister has also not yet been invited by US President Joe Biden. Both trips are said to be on hold amid growing discomfort with Netanyahu’s hard-right government.

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