(November 28, 2018 / JNS) U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took to Twitter on Wednesday to call for the immediate release of a Palestinian American who was imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority for engaging in a real estate transaction in eastern Jerusalem with Jews.
The abduction of 55-year-old Issam Akel took place approximately two months ago, and his family urgently contacted the United States for help in securing his safe release.
“The Pal. Authority has been holding U.S. citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months,” wrote Friedman on Twitter. “His suspected “crime”? Selling land to a Jew. Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the U.S. & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release.”
Akel, a resident of Bethlehem with American citizenship, had worked for the P.A. Ministry for Local Government, but is accused by the P.A. of helping sell an Arab-owned house in the Old City of Jerusalem to a Jewish organization.
Selling land to Jews is illegal in the Palestinian Authority, and is punishable by the death penalty.
Last week, Palestinian Islamic representatives in eastern Jerusalem reaffirmed a fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting Palestinians from selling houses or land to Israeli Jews.