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      Can the EU Save Abu Shahala?

      EU officials say they will pressure PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas not to execute the Arab man who sold Beit Hamachpelah to Jews in Hevron
      By Gabe Kahn
      First Publish: 5/18/2012, 3:03 PM

      Beit Hamachpela
      Beit Hamachpela
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      European Union Committee for Foreign Affairs chairman Dr. Fiorello Provera said this week that the EU was obligated to intervene on behalf of Muhammad Abu Shahala.

      Abu Shahala was sentenced to death by a Palestinian Authority court for selling the Beit HaMachpela (House of the Patriarchs) to Jewish families in Hevron.

      "Abu Shahala's conviction has no justification, and therefore the European Union will intervene to save his life," Provera wrote in response to a plea by Hevron's Jewish community asking the EU intervene on Abu Shahala's behalf. "It is inconceivable that a man who sells his house will be convicted of a crime and sentenced to death."

      "The PA is the foremost beneficiary of a European assistance, so we must intervene interest and demand the PA immediately cancel Abu Shahala's death sentence. And, to remove the death penalty for the sale of property and land [to Jews]."

      Provera indicated media reports in Israel had prompted EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton to intervene on Abu Shahala's behalf – adding that European Union policy opposed the death penalty in all cases.

      Provera concluded, "I call on the PA to immediately block the implementation of death sentence on Abu Shahala, as required by the UN General Assembly."

      Abu was arrested four months ago and questioned about selling Beit Machpela to local Jews. Initially, he was released, but was rearrested 66 days later, reportedly tortured into confessing, and placed in solitary confinement.

      The execution order against Abu Shahala still requires the signature of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, Abu Shahala, who suffers from heart disease and has had four catheterizations, is said to be in deteriorating health.

      Jewish leaders David Wilder and Noam Arnon in Hevron have petitioned UN chief Ban Ki-moon, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton; European Council president Herman Van Rompuy; and the director general of the International Red Cross, Yves Daccord, among others, to intervene on Abu Shahala's behalf.

      “It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a ‘capital crime’ punishable by death,” they wrote to the leaders. "The very fact that such a ‘law’ exists within the framework of the PA legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages."

      “What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews? Less than one hundred years ago, such acts were legislated and practiced, in the infamous ‘Nuremberg laws....”