'Time for Israel to stand up for itself'

Zionist group blasts PA interference in Israeli sovereignty, after suspected kidnapping of Arab in sale of land to Jews in eastern J'lem.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

חטיפה. אילוסטרציה
חטיפה. אילוסטרציה
צילום: istock

Officials from the Zionist Im Tirtzu organization responded to the suspicions that PA security forces had kidnapped an Arab real estate agent acting on behalf of a local clan who sold land to Jews in eastern Jerusalem.

The kidnapped man has already been held in Ramallah in an interrogation facility for two weeks.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that two senior Palestinian Authority officials had been arrested by Israeli security forces, following the kidnapping of an American citizen in Jerusalem.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities acknowledged that Palestinian Authority Jerusalem District Governor Adnan Ghaith had been arrested, along with Jihad Al-Faqeeh, regional director of the PA’s intelligence agency. The two were released to house arrest on Monday.

The two had been taken into custody Saturday, though the reason behind the arrest was not disclosed.

According to a report by Reuters, however, attorneys representing the two PA officials say their clients were arrested on suspicion they were involved in the kidnapping of an American citizen earlier this month.

The kidnapped man is said to be an Arab American who possesses an Israeli ID card, and is a legal resident of Jerusalem.

Israeli news outlets have reported that the PA officials suspected in the man’s kidnapping targeted him for allegedly facilitating the sale of Arab-owned real estate in the Old City of Jerusalem to Jews.

Under PA law, selling of land to Jews is illegal and punishable by death. However, such sentences must be approved by the PA chairman, and current chairman Mahmoud Abbas has preferred to authorize life sentences for such offenses, possibly due to fear of an international backlash.

In 2014, Abbas toughened the PA law against selling property to Israeli Jews, so that any Palestinian Arabs involved in renting, selling or facilitating real estate transactions with citizens of "hostile countries" in any way would receive life imprisonment and hard-labor.

Earlier this month, senior PA leaders condemned the sale of property in the "Aqaba Darwish" section of the Old City to Jews, and formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the sale and those involved in the transfer.

Officials from Im Tirtzu slammed the PA’s “erosion of of Israeli sovereignty” taking place in Jerusalem and other parts of the country.

Lt. Col. (res.) Baruch Yedid, head of the Palestinian desk in the research division of Im Tirtzu and former Arab affairs advisor for COGAT, said that "For a long time now we have been witnessing the gross violation of the agreements in Jerusalem by Abbas [after PA security jurisdiction was limited to Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria in the Oslo Accords], violations which began a few years ago and were exacerbated by President Trump's approach to the regional conflict. Abbas avoids entering into negotiations and is working to establish facts on the ground that will affect the final agreement. Senior officials in the PA know well that their political situation in Judea and Samaria is terrible, and they are working all the time against the clans and the religious-familial establishment. In the current reality, Israel must work around the PA and establish its sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem by working with the heads of the clans.”

Matan Peleg, chairman of the Im Tirtzu movement, said, "We witness time and again the erosion of Israeli sovereignty in all parts of the country and even more so in the Jerusalem area. Aqaba Darwish [the area involved in the case in question] and Khan al-Ahmar are only symptoms of the loss of Israeli sovereignty, whether at the hands of Palestinian security forces or by European Union funds. Israel must start to stand up for itself. "