A Palestinian Authority military court on Tuesday sentenced a Hevron Arab to death by hanging for the crime of selling land to Jews in Judea and Samaria, the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency reported. The three-member judicial panel heard the case last week and handed down its verdict and conviction on Tuesday.
Dozens of Arabs have been executed in the past for collaborating with Israel by selling land to Jews, but the court’s ruling is the first time the PA officially has handed down a guilty verdict of treason for the crime. Previous summary executions with the approval of the PA have been met with outcries from human rights organizations.
Jews have spent millions of dollars the past few years to buy land from Arabs in an effort to eliminate all claims against Jewish rights to the land. The PA began fighting the sales in the 1990s, announcing in 1996 that the death penalty would be imposed for selling land to Jews.
Seven Arabs were executed in the same year for “collaborating,” and the PA later admitted that it was responsible for the murders. More executions took place the following years, and one Arab, Mohammed Abu al-Hawa, was tortured and murdered in 2006 for allegedly selling an apartment building in Jerusalem to Jews.
The Human Rights Watch organization protested to then-PA leader Yasser Arafat at the time, declaring that statements by officials who encouraged punishment for selling land to Jews were ''casting grave doubt on your government's commitment to human rights and the rule of law.''
The PA law was based on a law ordered to be passed by King Hussein in 1973, prohibiting the sale of land in Jordan or in Judea and Samaria by a Jordanian to Israelis. A relatively more moderate law replaced it in 1995 but still effectively barred the sale of land to non-Arabs.