Jailed Palestinian who sold land to Israelis set to be freed

Palestinian-American who received life sentence for selling property to Jews is reportedly set to be sent to US.

    Akel was accused of selling land to an organisation that is working to establish a Jewish majority in Jerusalem's Old City [Ariel Schalit/AP]
    Akel was accused of selling land to an organisation that is working to establish a Jewish majority in Jerusalem's Old City [Ariel Schalit/AP]

    A Palestinian man who received a life sentence for selling property in the occupied territory to Israelis is set to be released and sent to the United States, Israeli media reported.

    Isaam Akel, who holds a dual US citizenship, is expected to leave the occupied West Bank to be transported to the US in the coming days, according to Haaretz.

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) was under tremendous pressure from the US and Israel to release the 55-year-old, with Israel conducting several retaliatory operations following the sentencing.

    No official statement has been made by the PA, Israel or the US after the reports of Akel's imminent release.

    In December, a Ramallah court had sentenced Akel to life in prison with hard labour after he was found guilty of selling land in the Old City of annexed East Jerusalem to Israeli Jews.

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    According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Ramallah High Court found him guilty of violating a 1960 penal code that bans the sale of land to a foreign country.

    He was accused of being a middleman between a Palestinian home owner and Ateret Cohanim, a Jewish organisation that is working to establish a Jewish majority in the Old City.

    The offence can result in capital punishment under the Palestinian law, but President Mahmoud Abbas has never ratified a death sentence.

    Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and claims Jerusalem as its "undivided capital", while the PA sees East Jerusalem as the capital of its future state.

    Following Akel's detention, Israeli police twice arrested the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, in connection with their investigation into the matter and raided his office.

    In November, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Twitter called Akel's continuing detention "antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence".

    "We demand his immediate release," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News