The Palestinian Authority Cracks Down on Sales of Land to Jews in Jerusalem

Oct. 25 2018

Earlier this month, agents of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction apprehended a Palestinian businessman named Khaled al-Atari and subjected him to a violent interrogation; he is currently in hiding. Atari’s crime? He had purchased a three-story house in east Jerusalem from an Arab family and then sold it to a group of Jews for $17 million—in violation of a Palestinian Authority (PA) law forbidding any sale of property to Jews. Atari’s apprehension, writes Yoni Ben Menachem, is part of a larger PA crackdown on land sales in eastern Jerusalem; it is also a violation of the Oslo Accords:

On October 20, 2018, the Jerusalem police and the Shin Bet apprehended Adnan Gheith, the PA’s Jerusalem governor, and Jihad al-Faqih, director of the PA’s intelligence office in eastern Jerusalem. . . . They were arrested on suspicion of abducting [an Arab resident of Jerusalem], a realtor . . . whom they suspected of selling a property in the area of Herod’s Gate in the Old City. The realtor is an Israeli citizen who also holds a U.S. passport. According to Palestinian sources, he is still incarcerated in an interrogation cell of the PA General Intelligence Service in Ramallah.

His family has submitted a complaint to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem regarding his arrest, but according to sources in Fatah, . . . Abbas has instructed that the realtor should not be released from custody. [Moreover], he wants to create a policy of deterrence against the sellers of land and property to Jews in the Old City, and he is looking [to make an example of someone].

According to the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian security forces are not allowed to operate in east Jerusalem. However, the PA has been openly violating [this aspect of the agreement]. As a result, the PA security forces have been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with the Israeli police and the Shin Bet. Residents of eastern Jerusalem relate that during 2018, after President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the PA security forces stepped up their operations in the area. They are threatening residents on a daily basis and summon them to interrogations in the offices of the [PA’s] Jerusalem district governor. . . .

[T]he abduction of an Israeli citizen with U.S. citizenship is extremely serious. . . . This type of incident has not occurred in Jerusalem for many years. . . . It is time for Israel to take a strong stand against the Palestinian security services, who are violating the Oslo Accords in east Jerusalem to strengthen Abbas’s position.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: East Jerusalem, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Oslo Accords, Palestinian Authority

Israel’s Friendship with Iraqi Kurds, and Why Iran Opposes It

In May 2022, the Iraqi parliament passed a law “criminalizing normalization and establishment of relations with the Zionist entity,” banning even public discussion of ending the country’s 76-year state of war with Israel. The bill was a response to a conference, held a few months prior, addressing just that subject. Although the gathering attracted members of various religious and ethnic groups, it is no coincidence, writes Suzan Quitaz, that it took place in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan:

Himdad Mustafa, an independent researcher based in Erbil, to whom the law would be applied, noted: “When 300 people gathered in Erbil calling for peace and normalization with Israel, the Iraqi government immediately passed a law criminalizing ties with Israel and Israelis. The law is clearly aimed at Kurds.” . . . Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (Coordination Framework), a powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militia, slammed the conference as “disgraceful.”

Himdad explains that the criminalization of Israeli-Kurdish ties is primarily driven by “Kurd-phobia,” and that Kurd-hatred and anti-Semitism go hand-in-hand.

One reason for that is the long history of cooperation Israel and the Kurds of Iraq; another is the conflict between the Kurdish local government and the Iran-backed militias who increasingly control the rest of the country. Quitaz elaborates:

Israel also maintains economic ties with Kurdistan, purchasing Kurdish oil despite objections from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad. A report in the Financial Times discusses investments by many Israeli companies in energy, development sectors, and communications projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to providing security training and purchasing oil. Moreover, in a poll conducted in 2009 in Iraqi Kurdistan, 71 percent of Kurds supported normalization with Israel. The results are unsurprising since, historically, Israel has had cordial ties with the Kurds in a generally hostile region where Jews and Kurds have fought against the odds with the same Arab enemy in their struggles for a homeland.

The Iranian regime, through its proxies in the Iraqi government, is the most significant source of Kurd-phobia in Iraq and the driving factor fueling tensions. In addition to their explicit threat to Israel, Iranian officials frequently threaten the Kurdish region, and repeatedly accuse the Kurds of working with Israel.

Read more at Jersualem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Iraq, Israel-Arab relations, Kurds