Palestinian Court Sentences Two to Prison for Selling Land to Israeli

A 64-year-old Palestinian man was sentenced to 10 years prison and hard labor by a Palestinian court on Tuesday for attempting to sell his legally-acquired land to an Israeli. The WAFA Palestinian news agency reported that a second Palestinian man, who works in the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit as a contractor and was acting as an intermediary in the sale, was also sentenced to the same punishment. The men have appealed the ruling.

WAFA reported that the Palestinian Preventive Security force arrested the men upon discovering the pending sale, preventing the completion of the deal. The incident follows the recent Palestinian political success in upgrading their United Nations status to non-member state, although the Palestinian law banning land sales to Israelis is a long-standing one.

The arrest and sentencing come as The Jerusalem Post reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed an openness to the Arab League to resume negotiations with Israel for six months if the Israelis again freeze settlement construction. He also wants to resume peace talks where they left off under the previous Israeli administration of Ehud Olmert.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze settlement construction for 10 months in 2009-10 to try and jumpstart negotiations, but the Palestinians refused to engage in direct talks until the freeze was nearing its end. The talks buy viagra with prescription were suspended by the Palestinians after demands to extend the construction moratorium were not heeded.

Since then Netanyahu has repeatedly called for renewing peace talks without preconditions, but Abbas has consistently refused to resume official direct negotiations without a settlement freeze. Abbas’ reported openness to conditional talks with the Israelis contrasted with the prison sentence imposed Tuesday on the Palestinian men trying to sell land to an Israeli.

The Bethlehem First Instance Court accused the Palestinian men in that case of trying “to cut part of the land of the State of Palestine in partnership between them for the benefit of annexing it to Israel.”

The owner of the property had papers giving him power of attorney on behalf of his brothers to sell the land they had inherited from their father, which WAFA said was located in the Beitar Illit settlement. The report said there was a deal on the table to sell the property for an agreed-upon amount.

In the past the Palestinians have threatened to impose the death penalty for selling land to Israelis. Despite the strong opposition to Israeli settlements by the Palestinian authorities, a number of Palestinians work in settlement construction.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 11, 2012)