Palestinian-American man sentenced by PA court to life with hard labour for 'crime' of selling land to Jews

Issam Akel lives in East Jerusalem but holds an American passport


A Palestinian-American man has been sentenced to life with hard labour by a Palestinian court after being found guilty of selling property to Jews.

Issam Akel, a resident of East Jerusalem who holds American citizenship, was arrested by Palestinian Authority forces in October, accused of acting to broker the sale of a house in the Muslim quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem to a Jewish organisation.

On Monday, the Higher Offences court in Ramallah convicted him of “attempting to cut off Palestinian land and sell it to a foreign country”, with the PA announcing it had frozen the bank accounts of both Mr Akel and other Palestinians reportedly involved in the sale.

Palestinian law considers it to be treason to sell properties to Jews; a crime carrying a potential penalty up to and including the death sentence.

A US official said the American government was “aware of reports that a US citizen has been sentenced by a Palestinian court.

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

In November, David Friedman, the US Ambassador to Israel, called for Mr Akel’s immediate release, describing his imprisonment as “antithetical to the values of the US and all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence.”

The Palestinian Authority has confirmed that Mr Akel will be able to appeal his sentence.

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