Palestinians work at a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement  of Elazar, near Bethleh
Palestinians work at a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Elazar, near Bethlehem, Tuesday, July 7, 2010. Photo by AP
Text size

The sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death, a Palestinian Authority court ruled on Sunday, in what Palestinian officials are saying is a necessary measure to ensure the founding of a future state.

Judge Ta'et At-Twil, according to a report by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, ruled that selling, or attempting to sell, land to a foreign country was a criminal offense which could result in the death penalty.

In a statement released following the ruling, the Palestine General Prosecution said the move represented "a consolidation of the previous legal principle," adding that the "ruling aimed to protect the Palestinian national project to establish an independent Palestinian state."

Last year, a Palestinian military court sentenced a man to death by hanging for selling land to an Israeli company, with then prosecutor Issa Amer saying that the defendant had sold land that didn't belong to him in the village of Beit Ummar using forged documents.

Land sales are considered treason by the Palestinians because of their long-running dispute with the Israelis, however the sentence is unlikely to be implemented.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas routinely withholds the required approval for executions. Several others are on death row as suspected informants for Israel.