Israel shuts down PA agency that tracked land sales to Jews

“Activity by the Palestinian cartography office is part of the Palestinian Authority’s plan to harm our sovereignty in Jerusalem,” Israel’s Public Security minister stated.

Israeli police on Tuesday raided the offices of a Palestinian cartographer who kept track of an Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. They detained him for several hours, accusing him of secretly and illegally working for the Palestinian Authority (PA) from the capital.

It is believed to be the first arrest of its kind since Israel banned the PA from carrying out official business in Jerusalem in 2001.

The accused, Khalil Tufagji, said police confiscated computers and files before arresting him. He denied working for the PA, although his office is believed to be a PA agency working under the guise of a “geographic consulting firm.”

“I proved that I have no direct connection with the Palestinian Authority. We are an NGO funded by foreign donors, not the Palestinian Authority,” Tufagji maintained.

He said he receives funding from Arab donors, although he shares his research with Palestinian officials, including a vast database on Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. He claimed he has no contact with Palestinian security forces.

Land Sales to Jews Punishable by Death

Israeli police accused Tufagji of conducting official research for the Palestinians on Israeli land activities in Jerusalem and presenting them as “land theft.” He was in “constant contact” with Palestinian security forces and that his research included details on Palestinians who intend to sell Jerusalem properties to Israelis, the authorities added.

The investigation also revealed that the names of Arabs wishing to sell homes and land to Jews were given to Palestinian security services in Ramallah. Such transactions are punishable by death, according to Palestinian law.

“Activity by the Palestinian cartography office is part of the Palestinian Authority’s plan to harm our sovereignty in Jerusalem and even to threaten Arabs selling real estate to Jews in the city,” stated Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, vowing to “prevent a foothold of the Palestinian government in Jerusalem.”

He said Tufagji’s office will remain closed for six months.

By: World Israel News Staff and AP