In an effort to discourage Palestinians from selling land to “the enemy” a Palestinian Islamic court authorized the death penalty to a man from a small village of Bet Umar north of Hebron in the West Bank. The man, Anwar Brigith, had been convicted of selling land to Jewish settlers living in the area, and was found to be in violation of a Fatwa issued by an Islamic judicial panel forbidding the sale of Palestinian land or houses to Jews.
Brigith was also found to be in violation of a 1979 Palestinian military law (authorized during Yasser Arafat‘s tenure as head of the PLO) which also stated that it is forbidden to sell Palestinian land to Jews. All of Brigith’s personal property, including that belonging to members of his family, may be confiscated as well, due to this harsh conviction.
Why this incident notes merit here, is that we might have expected this kind of punishment to have been levied by a judicial body located in a country like Saudi Arabia or even in Hamas controlled Gaza; where Jews once had property until the disengagement is Israel from Gaza in August, 2005. That this ruling was issued in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Fattah controlled Palestinian Authority headquarters is located, doesn’t bode well for any future agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
Most Palestinians appear to support this kind of sentence against “traitors to the Palestinian Nation”; and although no such sentence has been formally carried out (at least on the West Bank anyway) several Palestinians have been kidnapped and murdered for what were considered to be crimes against the “honor and sovereignty of the Palestinian People”. This has included deals involving property in the Old City of Jerusalem sold to Jews.
Many properties, as well as tracts of land within what is now Israel proper, i.e. within the pre-1967 boundaries, were purchased originally by Jews from Arabs; and it remains to be seen how these parcels will be treated in any final settlement. Many land deals have been made recently in areas like the Galilee – areas, which could one day be “swapped” for permanent settlements now located on the West Bank, if politicians like Avigdor Lieberman have their way.