Friedman demands release of Palestinian-American who sold property to Jews

One source told the 'Post' that the man was suspected of receiving $25,000 in commission for his role in the sale of the house.

By
November 28, 2018 13:46
4 minute read.
David Freidman

David Friedman. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

US Ambassador David M. Friedman has demanded the immediate release of Isaam Akel, a Palestinian-American arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces two months ago for engaging in a real estate transaction with Jews in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence,” said Friedman on Twitter. “We demand his immediate release.”




Palestinian sources said Akel, a resident of Bethlehem, had worked for the PA Ministry for Local Government.

“The 55-year-old man, who is a US citizen, is being interrogated by the Palestinians security agencies in Ramallah for his role in the sale of an Arab-owned house in the Old City of Jerusalem to a Jewish organization,” sources told The Jerusalem Post upon Akel’s arrest.

They said that the man arrested was suspected of acting as a “solicitor” between the owner of the house and Ateret Cohenim, a yeshiva group that has long been purchasing Arab-owned property in the east Jerusalem and the Old City, which reportedly purchased the house in the Old city of Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter.

A senior PA security official in Ramallah refused to comment on Akel’s arrest and detention.

US government officials said they were aware of the arrest and expressed concern that he would be treated fairly. They said the State Department was in touch with the PA regarding the arrest.

Last week, the Palestinian Islamic religious authorities in east Jerusalem reaffirmed a fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting Palestinians from selling their houses and lands to Israelis. Some Palestinians have called for imposing the death penalty on those who violate the ban.

One source told the Post that Akel received $25,000 for brokering the sale of the house, which belonged to a Palestinian widow. The source said it was unclear whether Akel was involved in the recent sale of a second property in the Muslim Quarter to Ateret Cohanim.
Earlier this month, several Jewish families moved into the Joudeh family house, triggering a wave of protests among many Palestinians. The PA government recently announced that it has formed a commission of inquiry to investigate how the house was sold to the Jewish organization.


The Joudeh family has strongly denied selling their house to Ateret Cohanim. Members of the family said they sold the house to Khaled al-Atari, a businessman from east Jerusalem with close ties to the PA’s Mukhabarat (General Intelligence Force) headed by Gen. Majed Faraj.

The family said it originally sold the house to Fadi Elsalameen, a Palestinian ex-pat living in the US, but canceled the contract after he failed to pay the agreed sum. Elsalameen is believed to be closely associated with deposed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, an arch-enemy of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Elsalameen claimed the PA exerted pressure on the Joudeh family to cancel the transaction and sell the house instead to Atari. He has also accused Faraj and the PA General Intelligence Force of facilitating the sale of the house, which is located a few hundred meters from the Temple Mount, to Ateret Cohenim.

The Joudeh family has published a copy of the deed issued by the Justice Ministry’s Land Title Register Authority (Tabu) showing the ownership of the house was transferred to Atari on August 23, 2018.

That same day, ownership was flipped to an overseas company called Daho Holdings Ltd., according to the document.

Atari, an east Jerusalem businessman, has failed to explain how the house ended up being registered under the name of a foreign company, which apparently acted as a front on behalf of Ateret Cohenim.

Last week, Palestinian activists in east Jerusalem summoned Atari and a representative of the Joudeh family for what some Palestinians described as a kangaroo court in an attempt to find out who sold the house to Ateret Cohanim. A video of the “court” hearing posted on Facebook has gone viral, with many Palestinians calling for the “execution” of those involved in the transaction for “high treason.”

On November 22, Israel Police arrested east Jerusalem residents Abdullah Alqam, Fadi Mtur and Kamal Abu Kweider on suspicion of incitement for their role in organizing the “court” hearing and threatening Atari. The three were arrested hours before a second “court” session was scheduled to convene.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

FISHING BOATS on the coast of Gaza.
May 21, 2019
COGAT announces Gaza fishing zone extension, does not mention ceasefire

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF