Arab land dealer who sold to Israelis: 'I fear for my life'

Claims senior PA officials have themselves sold property to Jews, appeals to Israeli authorities and philanthropists to help him.

311_Silwan houses (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_Silwan houses
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
One day after the Palestinian Authority reaffirmed the death penalty for Palestinians who sell land to Israelis, one of the most prominent Arab land dealers called on the Israeli authorities to help him and other Palestinians whose lives are at risk.
The veteran land dealer, who asked not to be identified by name – although his identity is known to the PA and many Arab residents in Jerusalem – also appealed to settler groups and American Jewish millionaire Irwin Moskowitz for assistance.
RELATED:PA affirms death penalty for land sales to Israelis
The PA’s latest threat should be taken “very seriously,” the land dealer, who belongs to a large clan in the city, told The Jerusalem Post.
The PA “has many agents in east Jerusalem who serve as informants and enforcers,” he said.
He pointed out that in the past, members of various branches of the PA security forces had abducted and murdered Palestinians suspected of selling land to Israelis. Most of these extra-judicial killings took place between 1995 and 1998, he said.
“I’m really afraid for my life,” the land dealer said. “I have sold a lot of land and houses to Jews over the past 30 years and the Palestinian Authority knows about me.”
He claimed that senior PA officials had also been involved in selling Arabowned houses and land to Israeli settler groups and wealthy American Jews.
“I have all the evidence with me,” he told the Post. “One day I will reveal the identities of top Palestinian civilian and security officials who were involved in such transactions.”
The land dealer, who avoids entering PA-controlled territories in the West Bank, said that he personally acted as mediator and facilitator in some of the deals involving the Palestinian officials.
“The senior officials made a lot of money by selling land and buildings to Israelis in Jerusalem,” he continued.
“They got their kickbacks and became rich.”
Asked why he was withholding the names of the PA officials, he replied: “The day will arrive when I will reveal everything.
They know that they have good reason to be afraid of me.”
He said that among the groups he has helped buy property in east Jerusalem were Ateret Cohanim and Elad. He said he also had a close working relationship with Moskowitz.
The PA security forces tried many times to recruit him as an informant, but to no avail, the land dealer said.
“I don’t trust the Palestinian Authority because most of their leaders and security commanders are in touch with the Shin Bet and Mossad,” he said. “They are mercenaries whose only aim in life is to make as much money as possible. With money you can buy the biggest official in Ramallah.”
The land dealer also told the Post that in the past he paid “protection money” to several PA security forces so that they would not harm him.
“But as soon as I stopped paying them, they started issuing death threats against me for selling land and houses to Jews,” he explained.
“When I used to pay them, it was okay to sell land to Jews. When I stopped, suddenly it became illegal and forbidden.”
The decision to impose the death sentence on Palestinians who sell land to Israelis showed that the PA leadership “was not serious about peace,” he said.
He believes that the decision is first and foremost designed to “cover up” for the corruption of many senior Palestinian officials involved in land deals with Israelis.
“The Palestinian leaders want to appear as patriots in the eyes of their people,” he concluded. “That’s why they have decided to use the death penalty against us.”
Asked if he had been deterred, the land dealer said: “I will continue to work in my business regardless of the threats. It’s a very dangerous business, but I don’t care. As we speak, there are many others who are selling their homes and land to Israelis in Jerusalem, particularly in the Old City. I know that I could be killed any minute, and that’s why I want the Israeli government and all the Jews I have helped to stand with me and not to throw me to the dogs.”