UAE pardons Israeli jailed on drugs charges, Israel says

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has pardoned and released an Israeli woman who was jailed for drug trafficking last year and had initially faced execution, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said on Saturday.

Fidaa Kiwan's death sentence had been commuted to life in jail, but following Israeli appeals for clemency she was pardoned by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in honour of the Ramadan holy month, Herzog said in a statement.

The UAE's government media office did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for confirmation or comment.

Kiwan was en route back to Israel, Herzog's statement said, adding that her family had argued that her conviction was due to her having "fallen victim to a ruse". It did not elaborate.

Israel and the UAE established relations in 2020 as part of a U.S.-sponsored diplomatic drive. After Kiwan's arrest, Israeli officials said the lack of extradition deals in the fledgling bilateral ties made negotiating her repatriation difficult.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Mills; Writing by Dan Williams)