TEL AVIV – A Palestinian-American allegedly involved in the sale of Jerusalem real estate to Jews was lured to Ramallah two weeks ago under the pretense that he was required to sign some paperwork before being abducted by the Palestinian Authority and detained ever since, his wife told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview Sunday.
The abduction came on the heels of a saga involving a piece of real estate in the Old City of Jerusalem not far from the Temple Mount. Last month a Jewish family moved into the house in question, which once belonged to the well-known Palestinian Joudeh family, sparking an angry wave of protests on the Palestinian street, with people calling for the execution of those who facilitated the sale. Indeed, Palestinians who sell land to Jews can face a death sentence, although capital punishment would require specific approval from PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Ateret Cohanim, a non-profit that settles Jews in the eastern part of the city, bought the Aqbat Darwish plot from Daho Holdings, a company incorporated in the Caribbean. The original landowner, Adeeb Joudeh al-Husseini al-Ghodayya, who despite being a Muslim is the fabled keeper of the keys to Jesus’ tomb site at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, insists he had no idea the plot would be sold to Jews. According to Joudeh, his lawyer Khaled Atari is responsible for the property ending up in Jewish hands. As per documentation at the Israel Land Registry, Atari purchased the house last April and received $17 million — more than six times the original sum — from Daho Holdings in a deal struck that same day, according to a source cited by the Haaretz daily.
Breitbart News has obtained the U.S. passport of the abducted 55-year-old man allegedly involved in the sale, but due to the threat to his life posed by the Palestinian Authority has chosen not to publish his name.
Since the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction over Jerusalem, where the man is said to reside, he was instructed to come to Ramallah “to sign some papers,” his wife told Breitbart News.
From October 11 until October 19, she heard nothing and had no idea where or why he was being detained. During that time, the Palestinian-American was held in a tiny room before being transferred to a prison cell, she said. On Saturday, she was granted visitation rights, but after five minutes of meeting with him under the eyes of armed guards she was told to leave, she reclls.
According to the man’s wife, there has still been no explanation forthcoming as to the reason for his imprisonment, neither has she been given any details about when he would be released.
“I don’t know if they are allowed to do this,” she said.
“He’s very afraid,” she stated, adding that when the ordeal is over her husband will “want to leave the country.”
“My daughters need their father,” she said.
A State Department official told Breitbart News that the U.S. is providing “all appropriate consular assistance.”
“We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained by the Palestinian Authority,” the official said.
Deputy Minister Michael Oren, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., described the abduction as “preposterous.”
“This man is basically being imprisoned for selling land to Jews and could be executed for it, it’s a capital offense,” Oren told Breitbart News.
“In any other place in the world this would be considered rank anti-Semitism and racism. Imagine if someone were sentenced to death for selling land to Jews in New York. It’s preposterous,” he said.
To top it off, Oren added, this was happening in “our ancestral capital.”
“It’s not selling land to Jews in Jenin, it’s selling lands to Jews in Jerusalem,” he said.
Last week, Breitbart News reported that Israel had arrested two senior Palestinian officials in connection with the abduction. Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith and Jihad Faqih, the Jerusalem director of the PA General Intelligence Services, denied any involvement and have since been released. Ghaith was released on bail and is now under house arrest.
According to a source at Ateret Cohanim who asked to remain anonymous, the fact that Ghaith is under house arrest while the Palestinian-American is in a prison cell in the West Bank with no rights at all is “ridiculous.”
He slammed the Israeli government for not doing more to extract the Palestinian-American, who also holds an Israeli identity card.
“It’s unbelievable, this absurdity, it’s a joke,” the source said.
“The [Israelis] are letting the Palestinians do what they want. The PA is transgressing the law, discriminating against Jews, and it needs to stop. How could it be that in the State of Israel a Jew can’t buy a house?” he said.