A Palestinian American who did business with Jewish people will now pay the ultimate price: life in prison. On Monday, a Palestinian court in Ramallah (about 6 miles north of Jerusalem) found 53-year-old Issam Akel guilty of selling a house to a Jewish Israeli organization, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Akel, a U.S. citizen and east Jerusalem resident, was first arrested by Palestinian Authority officials in October. Following a one-week trial, the Palestinian Grand Criminal Court found him guilty of “attempting to cut off a part of the Palestinian land and adding them to a foreign country.”
He will now spend the rest of his life doing hard labor behind bars.
Anti-racist Palestinian Authority today sentenced Issam Akel, a 53-year-old American-Palestinian, to life imprisonment for the crime of selling land to a Jew. https://t.co/XKjH9f7XtE pic.twitter.com/itO0OhZDJJ
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) December 31, 2018
The circumstances surrounding Akel’s arrest are murky. Since he resides in east Jerusalem and therefore holds an Israeli ID card, he should have immunity from being tried in a PA court.
There are several conflicting stories regarding Akel’s circumstances. According to The Jerusalem Post, some reports hold that he was arrested while visiting Ramallah. Other reports claim he was kidnapped from east Jerusalem and taken to the Palestinian city against his will.
Why hasn't Issam Akel, a **U.S. citizen** convicted to life in prison by the Arabs of Palestine for the mortal sin of "selling a house to the enemy in Jerusalem," i.e. Jews, gotten the Khashoggi treatment from Western media? https://t.co/e0tbACgJgG
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) January 2, 2019
The alleged offense that landed Akel in prison involved the sale of a home owned by two Muslim families in the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The middle-aged American acted as the broker, selling the property for $500,000 to Ateret Cohanim, a Jewish organization that purchases Muslim-owned properties in the region in the hopes of maintaining a Jewish majority.
According to the PA’s official news agency, Akel was found guilty of “selling a house to the enemy in Jerusalem.” Palestinian sources claim the PA has frozen the bank accounts of Akel and the two Muslim families who formerly owned the home.
The practice of selling land to Jews is punishable by death according to Palestinian law, and people like Akel are seen as guilty of “high treason.”
Akel’s sentencing comes after international protests from Israel and the United States.
Last month, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind delivered a letter written by Akel’s wife to President Donald Trump. The president said he would look into the situation.
HIKIND, TRUMP DISCUSS U.S. CITIZEN HELD AND TORTURED BY PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY DELIVERS EMOTIONAL LETTER TO THE…
Israeli Police have launched an investigation into Akel’s arrest. PA “governor” of Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, and a senior PA intelligence officer, Jihad Fakih, were arrested in connection with the investigation, but both were later released on bail.
Please pray that those investigating this case will achieve justice for Mr. Akel and his family.
(H/T: The Jerusalem Post)