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The PA’s Apartheid land laws

Maurice Hirsch  |
The PA's Apartheid land laws
  • American-Palestinian sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor for selling land to Jews.
  • In 2014, Mahmoud Abbas passed legislation raising the punishment for selling land to Jews to life imprisonment with hard labor.
  • 64.4% of Palestinians support the death sentence for selling land to Jews
By Maurice Hirsch, Adv.
An American-Palestinian, Isaam Akel, was convicted of selling land in East Jerusalem to Jews and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor by a Palestinian court:

"In accordance with the instructions of clause 2/274 of the [PA] criminal procedures law, the [PA] Grand Criminal Court, which convened in Ramallah, convicted the accused I.A. on the charges attributed to him - an attempt to cut off part of the Palestinian territories and annex them to a foreign state [as described in] Penal Code Number 16 of 1960. Relying on the conviction and in accordance with the instructions of clause 2 of Decision with Legislative Force Number 20 of 2014, the court sentenced him to life with hard labor.
The lawsuit was submitted to the court on Dec. 23, 2018, and the verdict was given approximately a week later."
[WAFA, official PA news agency, Dec. 31, 2018]

The basis for the PA's prosecution of Palestinians for selling land to Jews is article 114 of the Jordanian Criminal Code (1960), which the PA later adopted. The original Jordanian provision stated that a person who attempts to sever any part of the Jordanian territory in order to annex it to a foreign state will be subject to at least five years of hard labor.

In 2014, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas passed an amendment to the law - Government Decision with Legislative Effect (No. 20), 2014 - in which he raised the maximum sentence to life imprisonment with hard labor.

The prosecution of Palestinians for
selling land to Jews is not new and enjoys overwhelming Palestinian support.

In October, Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction stated:

"The Fatah Movement emphasized that the sale of properties and lands to the occupation or their illegal transfer to dubious sources constitutes high treason against the religion, the homeland, and the people, and that 'whoever does this decrees upon himself shame and disgrace in this world and in the world to come.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 14, 2018]

This position is also reflective of the general opinion of the Palestinians. In a
recent study, 87.8% of those surveyed said they would call Palestinians who sell land to Jews "traitors" while 9.1% would call them "corrupt/despicable/non-patriotic." [Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Dec. 18, 2018]

According to the survey, notwithstanding the arrests and the prosecutions, 77.5% of Palestinians believe that the PA is not doing enough to deter people from selling land to Jews. Despite Abbas' 2014 amendment, 74.8% of Palestinian believe that there are not sufficient penalties to deter Palestinians from selling land to Jews. An incredible 64.4% of Palestinians support the death sentence for selling land to Jews.

While the PA and BDS organizations falsely accuse Israel for being an "Apartheid State", the fact of the matter is that it is the PA who is more comparable to the Apartheid regime than Israel.

Even though the South African policy of Apartheid was officially adopted in 1948, the reality is that the practice started many years before. Already in 1913, the South African government passed the Natives Land Act. According to this law, black South Africans were prohibited from buying or renting land in 93% of South Africa. This law was one of the foundation stones of the later adopted official policy.

With the exception of a handful of individuals, no Jews live in the areas under the control of the PA (Areas A and B as defined in the Oslo Accords). This area comprises 40% of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank. The entrance of Jews into these areas is particularly hazardous and has often resulted in their murder. The land registry in these areas is controlled by the PA and thus the prohibition is easily enforced.

As regards to area C and East Jerusalem, the PA's approach is clearly expressed - the sale of any land to Jews is prohibited and punishable with life imprisonment with hard labor.

If black South Africans were only prohibited from owning 93% of the land in South Africa, in the ideal view of Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority, Jews would be prohibited from owning any land in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank or East Jerusalem. 
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