A Palestinian Authority court in Ramallah on Monday sentenced Issam Akel, a Palestinian American and a resident of East Jerusalem, to life in prison for attempting to sell land to Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem, an official in the PA judiciary’s media office said.
Akel “was sentenced on Monday, but he can appeal the ruling,” the official, who asked to remain unnamed, told The Times of Israel.
A report on the PA judiciary’s website said an individual with the same initials as Akel was sentenced to life in prison for attempting “to annex part of the Palestinians’ lands to an alien state.”
The official confirmed that the report on the PA judiciary’s website was referring to Akel.
Akel, a resident of Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood, is a holder of a blue Israeli identification card.
The PA rarely arrests and carries out judicial proceedings against Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who hold Israeli ID cards.
A spokeswoman for the US Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Akel’s sentencing.
Manara Square in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Palestinian law considers attempting to sell or selling land to Israeli Jews a punishable offense.
According to the law, possible punishments for trying to sell or selling land to Jewish Israelis include various degrees of hard labor and imprisonment as well as execution.
However, the law requires that PA President Mahmoud Abbas approve any death sentence, and he has not signed off on any executions since 2006.
Akel’s father, Jalal, denied in late November that his son had sold land to Israeli Jews.
“There is no evidence my son sold anything to Israelis, all charges are void,” Jalal told Reuters at the time.
In November, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman called on Ramallah to release Akel.
“The Pal Authority has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months,” Friedman tweeted on November 28.
“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.”