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For the second time this year, the Palestinian Islamic religious authorities in Jerusalem reaffirmed a ban on selling property to Israelis, and warned that any Palestinian involved in such transactions would be accused of “high treason.”
The latest decision on Thursday followed news that Jews had purchased a house in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The house, which according to reports in the Palestinian media was purchased by the Ateret Cohanim organization, belonged to the Joudeh family. The organization, along with Ir David Foundation, has been acquiring lands and houses in east Jerusalem for decades.
The Old City transaction has drawn strong condemnations by many Palestinians, who see it in the context of Israel’s effort to “Judaize” Jerusalem.
Earlier this week, the Palestinian Authority government set up a special commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sale of the house, which is located only a few hundred meters from the Temple Mount.
The Joudeh family has vehemently denied selling the house directly to Jews. Two Palestinian solicitors whose names have been linked to the transaction have also denied involvement.
The heads of the Palestinian Fatwa Supreme Council, who met in east Jerusalem, issued a statement in which they renewed the ban on conducting property transactions with Israelis.
The statement reminded Palestinians of previous Islamic religious decrees prohibiting such transactions under the pretext that “the land of Palestine was an inalienable religious endowment [waqf] that can’t be sold” to non-Muslims.
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“The council stressed that selling [property] to the occupation or facilitating the transfer of its ownership, through mercenaries, is a great betrayal of religion, the homeland, and morals.”
It said that any Palestinian who is found “in collusion of this crime would be conspiring against the land, the cause and the Palestinian people, and will be seen as someone who has sold himself to the devil.”
The council called on Palestinians to “fight at all levels” against those who violate the ban, and demanded that their families publicly disown them. It also said that the Palestinian security forces will chase those involved in real estate transactions with Israelis in order to make an example of them for others.
It ruled that all real estate transactions with the “occupation” are considered null and void under international law. It said that it was “unlawful for the occupier to purchase property or lands in line with international conventions.”
Palestinian Authority land laws, which were enacted during the Jordanian rule of the West Bank, prohibit Palestinians from selling lands to “any person or judicial body corporation of Israeli citizenship.
Palestinians who are found guilty of selling lands or houses to Israelis can be sentenced to death. In the past few decades, several Palestinians suspected of selling lands or houses to Israelis have been kidnapped and murdered in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Islamic council also lashed out at visits by Jewish “settlers” to the Temple Mount and claimed they were part of an Israeli scheme to bring about a situation where the holy site “would be divided in time and place by force and at gunpoint.” It held the Israeli government and the US administration fully responsible for mounting tensions in the entire region.
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