Photo Credit: Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90
Eastern Jerusalem, May 24, 2017.

The Palestinian Authority on Monday sentenced Issam Akel, an Arab-American resident of eastern Jerusalem who holds both an Israeli ID card and an American citizenship, to life in prison after he had been convicted of selling land to Jews, according to a PA security source who spoke to Israeli reporter Gal Berger. The verdict was handed down in a Ramallah court.

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US Ambassador David Friedman in November called on the PA to release Akel from custody in a tweet that said: “The Pal Authority has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months. His suspected ‘crime’? Selling land to a Jew. Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release.”

Israel has also been pressuring the PA to release Akel release. In late November, Israeli police arrested Adnan Rit, the PA “Governor” of the Jerusalem District—for the third time in November alone—for his role in Akel’s detention.

44 PA Arabs have recently been arrested and accused of selling land to Jews.

Akel should consider himself lucky. The Palestinian Authority land laws prohibit Arab residents from selling their lands to “any man or judicial body corporation of Israeli citizenship, living in Israel or acting on its behalf,” in a flagrant violation of the civil rights of Jewish buyers.

Land sales to Israelis are considered treason by the PA, and PA citizens who sell land to Israelis can be subject to the death penalty. When captured, suspects are tortured by the PA security service and kept behind bars for long periods of time without a trial.

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