Police seek to charge activist who reported Palestinian land-sellers
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Police seek to charge activist who reported Palestinian land-sellers

State prosecution to decide whether to put Ezra Nawi on trial for conspiracy to commit a crime

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Left-wing activist Ezra Nawi at the Jerusalem District Court after his release from detention on January 25, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Left-wing activist Ezra Nawi at the Jerusalem District Court after his release from detention on January 25, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police said Sunday they recommend trying the left-wing activist Ezra Nawi, who was exposed in a television report saying he helped Palestinian officials track down and possibly execute Palestinians who were considering selling land to Jews.

Several days ago Judea and Samaria District Police passed on Nawi’s file and that of another activist, Guy Butavia, to the state prosecution, which will decide whether to accept the police recommendation and press charges against the pair for contact with a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Nawi was arrested in January at Ben-Gurion Airport as he tried to leave the country, days after an investigative report in which he was recorded saying he helps Palestinian authorities track down Arabs who attempted to sell land to Jews. Butavia, like Nawi an Israeli activist from the Ta’ayush organization, was also arrested at the time.

Both men were later released despite police requests for them to be remanded in custody.

Attorney Leah Tsemel, who represents Nawi, said she had yet to receive a notification by police about their recommendation that her client be indicted, the Hebrew-language Walla website reported.

In the investigative report, aired by Channel 2’s “Uvda” program, Nawi can be heard speaking about four Palestinian real estate sellers, whom Nawi said mistook him for a Jew interested in buying their property.

“Straight away I give their pictures and phone numbers to the Preventive Security Force,” Nawi is heard saying in reference to the Palestinian Authority’s counterintelligence arm. “The Palestinian Authority catches them and kills them. But before it kills them, they get beat up a lot.”

The broadcast sparked a political storm, with right-wing politicians and activists pointing to it as proof that left-wing groups are not interested in human rights.

In the Palestinian Authority, the penal code calls for capital punishment for anyone convicted of selling land to Jews. This law, which Palestinian officials defended as designed to prevent takeovers by settlers, has not been implemented in Palestinian courts, where sellers of land to Jews are usually sentenced to several years in prison.

A number of murders in recent years have been rumored to be related to the sale of land to Israelis, though the cases have remained unsolved.

Times of Israel staff and JTA contributed to this report.

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