(Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Rabbi Aryeh Stern

“Major efforts must be made to free the abducted, because he is suspected of selling property to Jews, and anyone who is involved in this plays a part in the commandment to settle the Land of Israel,” Rabbi Stern ruled.

By: United with Israel Staff

The Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem, Aryeh Stern, issued an unprecedented ruling that Israel has an obligation to help free Palestinians who have been imprisoned for selling land to Jews.

In a letter sent to Lt. Col. (res.) Baruch Yedid, head of the Arab Affairs desk at the Zionist movement Im Tirtzu, Rabbi Stern wrote that the obligation for freeing imprisoned Jews also applies to Palestinians who were jailed for selling land to Jews.

Stern’s letter came in response to the recent abduction of Issam Akel, a resident of Jerusalem who was arrested by the Palestinian General Security Service on the suspicion that he had sold land to Jews.

“In the Talmud and Jewish law we learned that poor non-Jews need to make a living just like poor Jews, and so too this is the ruling according to which non-Jewish prisoners should be freed just like Jewish prisoners; it is already known that the commandment to free prisoners is one of the most important commandments,” Stern wrote.

“Major efforts must be made to free the abducted [Issam Akel], because he is suspected of selling property to Jews, and anyone who is involved in this plays a part in the commandment to settle the Land of Israel. Efforts to secure his release will encourage others not to be deterred or refrain from selling land, because they’ll know that they will be protected from anyone who seeks to harm them.”

Historic and Brave Moves

Yedid welcomed the letter, saying that it was a historic and brave move by Rabbi Stern.

“For the first time, a significant figure in the rabbinical institution is intervening on behalf of the Palestinians who have become targets for the Palestinian Authority in the capital,” said Yedid.

“We hope that these words will lead to action and that the rest of the authorities in Israel will act in this spirit and put an end to Palestinian lawlessness in Jerusalem. The authorities must provide protection to Israeli residents and assert de facto sovereignty,” Yedid concluded.

This is not Rabbi Stern’s first ruling on the issue of Palestinians suffering after selling land to Jews. Last month he ruled that Alla’ Qirresh, who died in a car crash on Israel’s Route 90 in November and was refused burial in Jerusalem’s central Muslim cemeteries because he allegedly sold property in the city to Jews, should be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Rabbi Stern explained that since the Muslims were unwilling to bury him, “we must do something to right this wrong done to a man disgraced, simply for his willingness to sell land to Jews. We must give very positive treatment to righteous gentiles, and in this case this is someone who showed good will and was even willing to take a risk.”

Palestinian law prohibits Palestinians from selling land to anyone connected to Israel in any way.

Ahmad Salameh and his father were both killed for the crime of selling lands to Jews.

Land sales to Israelis are considered treason by the Palestinians because they supposedly threaten the founding of a future state.

In July, the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, issued a fatwa, an Islamic religious decree, banning Muslims from “facilitating the transfer of ownership of any part of Jerusalem or the land of Palestine to the enemies.”

The fatwa decreed that the “land of Palestine” was Waqf, an absolute religious endowment in Islamic law, and therefore cannot be sold in any way to non-Muslims.

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