Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara said on Tuesday that there was a serious threat to the life of Muhammad Abu Shahala, the Palestinian Authority Arab who arranged the sale of the Beit Hamachpelah in Hevron to Jews.
Abu Shahala’s medical condition recently deteriorated and he has undergone four cardiac catheterizations. As well, the PA is threatening to execute him because of a PA law which stipulates that a person who sells property to Jews will be put to death.
“The PA's threats to execute Abu Shahala over the sale of Beit Hamachpelah in Hevron require Israel to intervene to save him,” Kara said at a meeting of Likud activists in the northern Israeli city of Akko.
“We need to condition any peace negotiations with [PA Chairman] Abbas on the release of all PA Arabs related to this affair,” he added.
Abu Shahala was arrested four months ago and was questioned about selling the Hevron house to Jews. He did not admit that he had done so and was released. 64 days ago, he was arrested again and was forced to confess to the sale. Following his confession he was placed in solitary confinement and has been subject to daily humiliations.
The execution order against Abu Shahala awaits Abbas’ signature. Once signed by Abbas, the order will in essence be approved and the execution will be carried out.
The residents of the Hevron home were evicted by order of Defense Minister Ehud Barak on April 4. Barak thus violated an agreement made with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior ministers to delay action on the issue until several weeks later.
The 15 families who were evicted from the home bought it from an Arab and had moved in after the sale, fearing the building – uninhabited – would be occupied by local Arabs before the Civil Administration validated their purchase.