JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Palestinian Authority sentenced a former intelligence official to death for selling property to Jews, a capital offense under P.A. law.
Muhammad Abu Shahala was taken into custody last month after several Jewish families moved into a house across from the Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpelah) in Hebron.
Palestinian security forces reportedly tortured Shahala until he confessed to acting as an agent in the sale.
David Wilder and Noam Arnon, leaders of the Jewish community in Hebron, issued an international appeal on behalf of Shahala.
"It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a 'capital crime' punishable by death," read a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and International Red Cross Director-General Yves Daccord.
"The very fact that such a 'law' exists within the framework of the P.A. legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages," the letter stated.
"It is incumbent upon the entire international community, which views Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority as a viable Middle East peace partner, to publicly reject such acts of legal murder, when the 'crime' is nothing more than property sales. What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews?"
Jerusalem Post Senior Contributing Editor Caroline Glick said the law against selling land to Jews has been a P.A. priority since its inception.
"The PA was established in May 1994. The first law it adopted defined selling land to Jews as a capital offense," Glick said. "Shortly thereafter scores of Arab land sellers began turning up dead in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] in both judicial and extra-judicial killings."