BFF-32 Palestinian court sentences man to life over Jerusalem land sale

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Palestinian court sentences man to life over Jerusalem land sale

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories, Dec 31, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – A Palestinian
court sentenced a Palestinian-American man to life in prison Monday over the
sale of Jerusalem property to Jewish Israelis, a court source said, in a case
that has drawn criticism from the US ambassador.

Issam Akel, accused of involvement in selling an east Jerusalem building
to Jewish buyers, was arrested in October and Israeli and US officials have
since called for his release.

Official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported the sentence, while
identifying the man only as I.A.

A source with the court confirmed to AFP the man sentenced was Akel,
adding that he could appeal the ruling.

He was found guilty of selling Palestinian land to a foreign country, WAFA
said.

Such sales are considered treasonous among Palestinians concerned with
Israeli settlers buying property in annexed east Jerusalem.

The case has stirred controversy since the arrest.

“We are aware of reports that a US citizen has been sentenced by a
Palestinian court,” a US official said.

“When a US citizen is incarcerated abroad, the US government works to
provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

Following Akel’s detention, Israeli police twice arrested the Palestinian
governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, in connection with their investigation
into the matter and raided his office.

In November, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Twitter called
Akel’s continuing detention “antithetical to the values of the US & to all
who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence”.

“We demand his immediate release,” he said.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed
it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see the
eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

PA activities are barred from Jerusalem by Israel.

BSS/AFP/RY/1932 hrs