Palestinian court jails US-Palestinian for life for Jerusalem land sale

A Palestinian hurls stones at Israeli troops during a protest against Israeli land seizures for Jewish settlements, in Al-Mazraah Al-Gharbiyah village near Ramallah on November 2. (AFP)
Updated 31 December 2018
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Palestinian court jails US-Palestinian for life for Jerusalem land sale

  • Land sales in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are fraught for Palestinians
  • Around 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank

RAMALLAH, West Bank: A Palestinian court sentenced an American-Palestinian on Monday to life imprisonment for violating a ban on selling land to Israelis, judiciary officials said.
The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, called in November for dual national Issam Akel to be released, saying his suspected crime was “selling land to a Jew” and his incarceration violated American values.
Akel was accused of attempting to sell a property in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem without the permission of his business partners or Palestinian authorities. Palestinian officials have not publicly identified the intended buyer.
The Higher Offences Court in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, convicted Akel of “attempting to sever parts of Palestinian land and annex it to a foreign state,” the judiciary media office said.
“In light of the conviction, the court handed down a life sentence with hard labor,” it said. Akel can appeal, a judiciary official said.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment. Akel’s family, which denied the allegations against him, said it was unaware of the verdict or sentence.
Akel was detained on Oct. 10 in Ramallah, an Israeli security official said.
Palestinian law bars selling land to “a hostile state or any of its citizens.” It requires the permission of the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, for all land sales in East Jerusalem.
Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move that has not won international recognition.
Land sales in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are fraught for Palestinians, who see Israeli efforts to buy up land as part of a plot to cement control of occupied areas they seek for a state of their own.
Around 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which most countries consider a violation of international law against settling occupied land.


US intelligence proves ‘without question’ Iran behind tanker attacks

Updated 58 min 27 sec ago
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US intelligence proves ‘without question’ Iran behind tanker attacks

  • Hook: Iranian vessels operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz on June 12 and 13 approached tankers
  • “Those who have seen the intelligence all come away without any question Iran is behind these attacks”

WASHINGTON: The US envoy to Iran Brian Hook said Wednesday US intelligence proves “without question” Iran was behind the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Hook said that Iranian vessels operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz on June 12 and 13 approached tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous before each ship suffered explosions on June 13. 

“Those who have seen the intelligence all come away without any question Iran is behind these attacks,” Hook told a conressional hearing on the Trump adminstration's Iran policy.

Hook added that the intelligence showed a senior Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) official confirmed that its personnel had “completed two actions.”

Earlier the US Navy displayed mine fragments and a magnet it said it had removed from one of two oil tankers, saying the mines bore a striking resemblance to Iranian ones.

Addressing Iran’s involvement in Yemen, committee member Joe Wilson referred to the Houthi attack on Abha airport last week, which injured 26 people. He asked Hook how the US planned to hold Iran accountable for such actions, given Tehran’s support for the Houthis.

Hook said the US supported the right of countries like Saudi Arabia “who are on the front lines of Iranian agression” in their right to defend themselves when attacked, especially by the Houthi rebels.

“Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars organizing, training and equipping the Houthis to fight at a level beyond which makes any normal sense and it has prolonged and intensified the conflict,” Hook said.

“Iran is playing a very long game in Yemen They would very much like to do in Yemen what they have been able to do in Lebanon and to use the Houthis in the same model that they have used Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Hook said there had been half a dozen attacks in the last six weeks and that this was why the US had beefed up its military presence in the region “to establish deterrents.”

The US on Monday announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the region because of the threat from Iran. The deployment is in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month. The US has also sent an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers.

Also during the hearing, Hook said Iran was trying to “sow military roots in Syria,” and is attempting to destabilize Lebanon through its support for Hezbollah.