January 3, 2019
News Press Release

Abbas’ PA Ignores Trump Call: Free Pal.-American Jailed For Selling Property to Jews

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemned dictator Mahmoud Abbas’ pro-terror, anti-peace Palestinian Authority (PA) for ignoring calls by the Trump Administration to immediately free Palestinian Arab-American citizen, Issam Akel, jailed for selling property to a Jew, and instead sentenced him to life imprisonment with hard labor.

Amb. David Friedman tweeted, “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 civilized world, the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release.”

According to the PA’s Wafa news agency, “The Ramallah Grand Criminal Court sentenced a Palestinian identified only by his initials I.A. to life in prison with hard labor after it found him guilty of selling Palestinian land to a foreign country.” The Wafa report noted that Akel had been brought to court on December 23 and sentenced for “selling property in occupied Jerusalem [sic] to Jewish settlers” (David Isaac, ‘PA sentences US citizen to life in prison for selling land to Jews,’ World Israel News, December 31, 2018).

Akel, who holds an Israeli identification card, was kidnapped by the Palestinian General Intelligence Service last October after attempting to sell property in the Aqaba Darwish section of Jerusalem’s Old City to Jews. In November, Israel twice detained Adnan Ghaith, the PA ‘governor’ of Jerusalem, for his reported connection to Akel’s arrest by the PA.

The Trump Administration has called for the PA to release Akel, who holds American citizenship. On November 28, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman tweeted, “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 civilized world, the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release.”

In the PA, it is a crime to sell any property to Jews, and those convicted of doing so have been sentenced to hard labor or judicially murdered. In 2014, Abbas toughened the PA law against selling property to Israeli Jews, so that any Palestinian Arabs involved in renting, selling or facilitating real estate transactions with citizens of “hostile countries” in any way would receive life imprisonment and hard labor.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “As I observed on this matter only last week, when Abbas boasted of the PA’s ‘success’ in arresting Palestinian Arabs who sell property to Jews, this is a telling example of the Abbas regime’s monstrous, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-peace behavior –– harsh sentences in pursuit of its policy of creating a judenrein Palestinian state.

“Abbas’ PA takes an issue which is not a crime in any normal, democratic polity, like the sale of land, and outlaws it in respect of sales to Jews, and only Jews, because they are Jews.

“With this sentencing of Akel, the PA continues to spit in the eye of the Trump Administration, which has publicly called for the immediate release of this U.S. citizen. 

“The PA thus starkly demonstrates that it will not respond positively to the Trump Administration’s call to cease pro-terror, anti-peace actions like this, as well as paying salaries to terrorists and stipends to their families and indulging in vicious hate propaganda in PA media, mosques, schools and youth camps, promoting violence and murder as a national and religious duty.”