The European Union has been asked to intervene in order to stop the Palestinian Authority from executing a man who sold the Bait HaMachpela (House of the Patriarchs) to Jewish families in Hebron.
The chairman of the EU Committee for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Fiorello Provera, said this week that the EU was obligated to intervene on behalf of Muhammad Abu Shahala, who was sentenced to death by the PA. When Hebron’s small Jewish community made a plea to the EU to save Abu Shahala, Provera responded:
Abu Shahala’s conviction has no justification, and therefore the European Union will intervene to save his life. It is inconceivable that a man who sells his house will be convicted of a crime and sentenced to death. The PA is the foremost beneficiary of a European assistance, so we must intervene interest and demand the PA immediately cancel Abu Shahala’s death sentence. And, to remove the death penalty for the sale of property and land [to Jews]. I call on the PA to immediately block the implementation of death sentence on Abu Shahala, as required by the UN General Assembly.
Abu Shahala, who suffers from heart disease and has had four catheterizations, was arrested four months ago by the PA, released, then rearrested and reportedly tortured and put into solitary confinement. In order for him to be executed, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas must sign the death warrant.
David Wilder and Noam Arnon, leaders in Hebron’s Jewish community, have also petitioned UN chief Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, and the director general of the International Red Cross, Yves Daccord, writing:
It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a ‘capital crime’ punishable by death. The very fact that such a ‘law’ exists within the framework of the PA legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages. What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews? Less than one hundred years ago, such acts were legislated and practiced, in the infamous ‘Nuremberg laws’….
David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Hebron, said Jewish history begins in Hebron; Biblically, Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron in order to bury his wife Sarah there. Because Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried there, the city has always been known to Jews as the City of the Patriarchs. Hebron was King David’s first capital, and remnants of the city from Biblical times have been discovered there in archaeological excavations at Tel Rumeida, the ancient Tel Hebron. Jews lived there continually from Biblical times, but in 1929, at the behest of Haj Amin al-Husseini, appointed by the British authorities as Mufti of Jerusalem, who later consulted with Hitler about the “Final Solution,” Arabs rioted and massacred 59 Jews, and another eight who died of their wounds later. The Jews and Arabs had coexisted peacefully before, so when riots broke out around the country, the Jews asked Jewish soldiers to leave so their Arab neighbors wouldn’t be upset. Unprotected, the Jews were slaughtered for two days: the pro-Arab British authorities only instructed the Jews to remain inside their homes, where they were trapped. Entire families were slaughtered, among them Ben-Zion Gershon, the pharmacist at the Bait Hadassah Clinic, where both Jews and Arabs were treated, and his wife, whose hands were cut off.
Three days later, the British decided to evacuate the Jewish community of Hebron.
In 1931, the Jews returned, settling 200 people there. But in April 1936, new riots broke out, and the British deported all the Jews from Hebron again. In 1948, Jordan took over the city and razed the ancient Jewish city, including the cemetery. For the first time, Jews were absent for a sustained period of time, until 1967 and the Six-Day War, when the Jews returned until the present day.