Are European and George Soros-funded non-governmental organizations that operate in Israel complicit in an epidemic of Palestinians reportedly facing death sentences for selling property to Jews?
According to sources within the Palestinian Authority, the NGOs have been instrumental in providing research information on Arab property sales to Jews as well as any Jewish communities, outposts or military bases that may be sitting on Arab-owned land.
In the PA’s resulting clampdown on the newly discovered property sales, at least 16 Palestinians have been recently arrested and are currently in PA prisons for selling property to Jews, WND has learned.
Nine of the 16 could face capital punishment for their direct involvement in the land sales, according to PA sources.
The sources said that of the 16 Palestinians incarcerated, seven are employees of the PA, including its security forces.
Under the framework of the PA’s legal system, selling land to Jews is considered a capital offense. The PA has reportedly carried out scores of judicial and extrajudicial killings for such land sales.
Two NGOs, Peace Now and Yesh Din, have been particularly active in the field of monitoring Israeli Jewish communities in the West Bank as well as Arab sales that can be challenged in courts.
In April, for example, Peace Now and Yesh Din filed a lawsuit that went to the Israeli Supreme Court concerning a dispute in the ownership of land in the biblical community of Beit El. One Palestinian was reportedly arrested by the PA specifically because of the case. The NGOs were at the center of the challenge.
According to Baruch Gordon, an employee of the Beit El Yeshiva, which was involved in the land transaction, the property in question was purchased for a large sum from Ibrahim Judah Mustafa Hasan, a resident of the nearby community of Dura Al Qara. Gordon said Hasan was listed as the living heir of Ibrahim Mustafa Hasan Hasan, whose name appeared on the land registry.
Peace Now and Yesh Din later filed suit on behalf another man named Harbi Ibrahim Mustafa Hasan, who claimed he is the actual legal heir and that the sale of land was fraudulent.
The New York Times quoted Hasan in April as saying that a distant relative who was paid $35,000 for the land and was promised $150,000 more was jailed by the PA in January for the fraudulent sale.
Activist Hagit Ofran, who monitors Jewish settlement growth for Peace Now, told the Times that besides the property being challenged in Beit El, 17 other so-called outposts were being challenged in court.
Yesh Din used the Peace Now property information to file suit in the Beit El case.
PA sources told WND that the Palestinian government recently formed a unit with a $2.7 million yearly budget to investigate property sales to Jews as well as any Jewish communities, outposts or military bases that may be sitting on Arab-owned land. The unit works with nongovernmental organizations, including European-funded NGOs.
While Peace Now and Yesh Din both bill themselves as Israeli human rights groups, it has recently emerged that much of their funding actually comes from Europe. Soros is also a top donor to both groups.
In 2008 alone, Peace Now reportedly received $242,690 from the Norwegian Embassy, $142,081from the British Foreign Office, $74,148 from Germany’s Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, and $19,782 from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Im Tirtzu, an Israeli group that monitors NGOs, reported Peace Now received $218,925 from the embassy of Norway in 2009, as well as $189,614 from the United Kingdom and $143 961 from the Belgian government.
Yesh Din similarly receives vast sums of foreign funding. According to NGO-Monitor about 94 percent of Yesh Din’s donations are foreign. Government funders include the EU, Belgium, Norway, Netherlands, Ireland, U.K. and Germany.
The New Israel Fund and George Soros’ Open Society Institute are Yesh Din donors. Soros’ Open Society also donated to Peace Now.
The foreign donations to the groups were so concerning to the Israeli government that in 2008 the Knesset passed a law requiring Israeli organizations to publicize any foreign funding they receive. The law was aimed specifically at Peace Now.
Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government began legislation to limit the amount of foreign funding any Israeli NGO can receive.
Meanwhile, the number of Palestinians WND has learned are imprisoned for land sales to Jews – at least 16 – is much larger than previously reported.
In April, the news media reported that the PA sentenced to death former PA intelligence officer Muhammad Abu Shahala for involvement in a real estate transaction in which an Arab property was sold to Jews in the ancient Jewish community of Hebron.
The Hebron Jewish community has attempted to secure international assistance for Shahala’s plight.
Officially, the PA denies the reports that it sentenced Shahala to death and has been less than forthcoming about exactly where the former intelligence official is being held.
Dmitry Diliani, a spokesman for the PA, referred WND to the Palestinian prison in Hebron, which in turn directed a request to the PA’s Ministry of Justice.
The Justice Ministry did not reply to a request for comment before publication.
According to multiple reports, Shahala was tortured prior to a hasty trial in which he was found guilty of selling his Hebron property to Jews.