Ambassador calls for release of US citizen arrested by Palestinians for selling land to Jews


JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman called for the release of a dual Palestinian-American citizen being held by the Palestinian Authority for allegedly selling property to a Jew.

Isaam Akel, 53, was arrested two months ago. His family says he has been tortured during questioning.

“The Pal Authority has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months. His suspected ‘crime’? Selling land to a Jew. Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release,” Friedman tweeted late Tuesday.

Akel, a resident of Bethlehem, had worked for the Palestinian Authority. He is accused of being a middleman between the Palestinian owner of the home located in the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem and a Jewish organization that purchased it.

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Issam lived in the United States for 12 years. His four siblings and their families continue to reside in the U.S., according to a statement from New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who met on Wednesday in Jerusalem with Akel’s wife, Maram.