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

U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks on stage on during the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, May 14, 2018. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

JTA

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.

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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.

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.