In the first case of its kind, a Palestinian Authority "military court" on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian man to death by hanging after finding him guilty of selling land to Jews.
The verdict came shortly after the PA's chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, issued yet another fatwa (religious decree) banning Muslims from selling land or houses to Jews.
The death sentence is seen as an attempt by the PA leadership in Ramallah to deter Palestinians from conducting real estate transactions with Jews. It follows reports according to which Jewish individuals and organizations recently bought land and houses from Arabs in Jerusalem and some areas in the West Bank.
The man sentenced to death is Anwar Brigith, 59, from the village of Bet Umar, north of Hebron.
The three-judge panel found the defendant guilty of violating PA laws that bar Palestinians from selling property to "the enemy." In its ruling, the court, which convened in Hebron, said that Brigith had acted in violation of a Palestinian "military law" dating back to 1979, which states that it is forbidden for a Palestinian to sell land to Jews.
The accused was also found guilty of violating a law dating back to 1958 that calls for a boycott against Israel, as well as another law from 1953 that bans trade with Israelis.
The judges issued the verdict unanimously and pointed out that the defendant did not have the right to appeal. The death sentence, however, must be approved by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The court was headed by Gen. Abdel Karim al-Masri, who sat together with two other PA security officers, Muhrez Atyani and Nabil Jaber.
The court also decided to confiscate Brigith's money and property.
Although the PA has never executed Palestinians accused of selling land to Jews, several "suspects" have been kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian security personnel or members of armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Hatem Abdel Kader, a PA legislator from Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post that he fully supported the death sentence against "traitors" involved in real estate deals with Jews.
He urged the PA courts to issue death sentences in absentia against any Palestinian found guilty of such transactions, especially in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
"We are fighting against Jewish presence and house demolitions in [east] Jerusalem from one house to another," he said. "We are fighting on all levels and thus far we have been successful in preventing the demolition of some 28 houses in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. In the Old City, the number of Jews is about 3,000, as opposed to more than 30,000 Arab residents. Although the occupation is 43 years old, the Jews have been able to seize only 55 houses in the Old City."
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