Jerusalem, 12 June 1997

UPDATE: RECENT STATEMENTS BY SENIOR PA OFFICIALS CONCERNING THE SALE OF LAND TO JEWS

(Communicated by the Government Press Office)

PA CHAIRMAN YASSER ARAFAT:

"We are taking forceful steps against those who do this. Recently, a decision was passed to punish anyone who sells land, property or homes. We are keeping track of land dealers and punishing them." in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper Al-Hawadath, May 16, 1997

"Our law is a Jordanian law that we inherited, which applies to both the West Bank and Gaza, and sets the death penalty for those who sell land to Israelis. We are talking about a few traitors, and we shall implement against them what is written in the law books. It is our right and our obligation to defend our land." in an interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, May 21, 1997

"There are laws to which we will turn against anyone who sells land." in an interview with Zimbabwean News Agency on June 3, 1997

THE PA CABINET:

"The Palestinian leadership listened to a report regarding the fact that a number of land speculators have sold, via foreign intermediaries, Palestinian land to foreign companies, which are in fact Israeli companies working in the framework of the settlement plans being carried out by the Israeli government. The Palestinian leadership has decided to forbid the sale of land anywhere in Palestine either directly or via intermediaries. The leadership has empowered the legal authorities and security forces to implement the decision on this matter and to punish anyone who has sold land directly or has assisted in its sale. The sale of land constitutes the gravest danger concerning the Judaization of the Palestinian lands."

PA cabinet decision passed at its weekly meeting in Ramallah on May 2-3, 1997 (Voice of Palestine, May 3, 1997)

PA JUSTICE MINISTER FREIH ABU MIDDEIN:

"The land dealers must learn a lesson. We have a list of names. The people included on the list and others shall be put on trial. The list includes more than 310 names." in a newspaper interview Al-Ayyam, June 4, 1997

"Since we are talking about committing suicide, I advise the land dealers to commit suicide instead of getting killed and having their bodies thrown here and there." in an address at a public health seminar on suicide in Gaza City (Washington Post, June 2, 1997)

"These dealers, brokers, traitors – they finished the job for the Israeli side, and I am sure that there is a finger of an Israeli in this assassination." in answer to questions from reporters in Gaza

(Washington Post, June 2, 1997)

"There are many who have fled from Palestine, but anyone who has broken this serious law will remain a wanted fugitive by the Palestinian people, wherever he may go. We are warning them for the last time. Anyone from among the land dealers who will repent, we shall accept him back … as for those who have taken Israeli identity cards and think they have become Israeli citizens, we recommend that they not think that will buy them protection … If he thinks that because he has an Israeli identification card that we can not try him, then we shall try him via other means." at a press conference in Ramallah (Ha’aretz, May 28, 1997)

"This is a very dangerous act and there has been a decision to ban it by putting anyone who sells even centimeter on swift trial and to seek the death penalty against them … These people are traitors and Israel exploits them in expanding its settlements." in an interview with Agence France Presse, May 5, 1997

"I warned the land dealers several times through the media not to play with fire. For us, whoever sells land to Jews and settlers is more dangerous than collaborators. Therefore, they must be put on trial and sentenced to death … they are traitors." in an interview with Yediot Ahronot, May 20, 1997

"Expect the unexpected … nobody from this moment will accept any traitor who sells his land to Israelis." cited in The Washington Post, May 20, 1997

PA MUFTI IKRAMA SABRI:

"A ban of excommunication should be imposed on those who sell land to the enemy. It is forbidden to speak with them. It is forbidden to sit together with them. It is forbidden to visit them or to have any contact with them. The ban does not apply to their families or relatives, but only to them. Furthermore, it is their relatives who should initiate the excommunication. Whoever stands by them shall be excommunicated as well. This is Allah’s judgment against them." in his weekly Friday sermon at Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount (Voice of Palestine, June 6, 1997)

"Whoever is found to have sold land to Jews, his punishment is death. It is forbidden to pray for him, it is forbidden to purify his body before burial, and it is forbidden to bury him in a Muslim cemetery. We are obligated to remind the public of this religious law, so as not to allow Jews to purchase Arab land and property with dollars they receive from America in order to throw us out of this land." in an interview with Yediot Ahronot, May 20, 1997

"The Zionist entity exists on seized land. The Jews remain enemies because they expropriate lands, build settlements and pay high sums to buy properties. They are the greatest enemies of us Muslims." in an interview with The New York Times, May 18, 1997

"We condemn this abhorrent crime and emphasize that despite all the conspiracies, Jerusalem and Palestine from the river to the sea will remain Islamic until judgement day … A land speculator for the Jews, in whose birth certificate it states that he is a Muslim, was killed. There is a possibility that his body will be brought to Al-Aksa mosque or another mosque. We wish to remind you that Islamic law forbids the washing and wrapping in shrouds of his body and forbids praying for his soul or burying him in a Muslim cemetery. We call upon you to beware. This should serve as a lesson to all traitors and speculators who collaborate with the Jews." in his weekly sermon at Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount

(Voice of Palestine, May 9, 1997)

PA INFORMATION MINISTRY:

"The Palestinian Authority views the death penalty imposed on land dealers as a legal punishment and deterrent which sits well with the Palestinian national interest … There exists a suspicion, bordering on certainty, that interested parties carried out the murders, among them the Israeli intelligence service. This was done in order to cover up their crimes and hide evidence which points to their fraud and forgeries which are intended to brazenly steal Palestinian lands on behalf of Israeli companies." senior PA Information Ministry official interviewed on the PA’s Voice of Palestine, June 1, 1997.

PA CABINET SECRETARY AHMAD ABDEL-RAHMAN:

"The decision to ban the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis will be implemented shortly and there will be no turning back from it." in an interview with Al-Quds, May 20, 1997.

HEAD OF THE PA’S ISRAEL DESK, SUFIAN ABU ZAYDEH:

"From the perspective of the Palestinian public and the Palestinian Authority, anyone who sells land to Jews is a traitor." in an interview with Israel Television, June 2, 1997.

"Any Muslim who sells even one grain of Palestinian land to Jews, be they Israeli or non-Israeli, or who serves as an intermediary in sales of this sort, is a heretic and traitor to his homeland." from a religious edict issued by Sheikh Hamed al-Bitawi, Chairman of the Religious Scholars of Palestine Association, which is linked to the PA (Al-Ayyam, May 23, 1997)