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Palestinian Lawmakers Debate Law Banning Land Sales to Jews

Palestinian legislators began debate this week on a bill that would ban the sale of land to Jews.

The Palestinian Legislative Council’s legal committee drafted the law after the United States and Israel sharply criticized the Palestinian Authority for implementing a pre-1967 Jordanian regulation banning such land sales.

Three Arabs suspected of selling land to Jews were killed after Palestinian officials announced last month that under the Jordanian law such sales were punishable by death.

The kidnapping of a fourth dealer was foiled by Israeli security forces.

The Palestinian Authority has denied involvement in the slayings and kidnapping.

Meanwhile, the wife of another Palestinian land dealer who died after being detained in a Jericho prison said her husband was beaten by interrogators.

She rejected a Palestinian security official’s claim that Hakam Kamhawi, 57, killed himself.

Kamhawi’s wife, Ansaf, said her husband had no reason to take his life, and that his body had shown signs of torture.

The Palestinian legislation would bar non-Palestinian Arabs from owning property “in Palestine for any reasons whatsoever with the exception of inheritance.”

Arabs would be allowed to buy Palestinian land by special permission from the self-rule authority. Other foreigners, but not Israelis, could also obtain exemptions from the ban.

Israeli Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh said the Israeli-Palestinian accords require that Israel review any legislation that comes before the council.

He added that any legislation that violates the accords, such as a ban on selling land to Jews, would be automatically invalidated.

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