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U.S. Envoy Condemns Jailing Of Palestinian For Selling East Jerusalem Property To Jews

The U.S. ambassador to Israel called on Palestinians on Wednesday to free an American-Palestinian who, the envoy said, was detained for “selling land to a Jew,” apparently violating a long-standing Palestinian ban on selling land to Israelis.

Through its official Wafa news agency, the Palestinian Authority has accused property dealer Issam Akel, a U.S. citizen, of attempting to sell a property in East Jerusalem without permission of his business partners or the authorities. The Wafa report did not identify the intended buyer.

Palestinian law bars selling land to “a hostile state or any of its citizens,” and requires the permission of the Palestinain Authority for all land sales in East Jerusalem.

Land sales in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are highly fraught for Palestinians, who see Israeli efforts to buy up land as part of a plot to cement control. Around 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which most foreign powers consider a violation of international law against settling occupied land.

“The Pal(estinian) Authority has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months. His suspected ‘crime’? Selling land to a Jew,” U.S. Ambassador David Friedman wrote on Twitter.

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