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UAE attempting to buy property in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian cleric warns

The purchase of property in east Jerusalem is a highly contentious issue [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 June, 2018

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The United Arab Emirates allegedly trying to buy up property in occupied east Jerusalem close to the Al-Aqsa mosque, a Palestinian cleric has warned.

The United Arab Emirates allegedly trying to buy up property in occupied east Jerusalem close to the Al-Aqsa mosque, a Palestinian cleric has warned.

Sheikh Kamal Khatib, the deputy head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, made the comments on Wednesday in an online statement.

Khatib said that an Emirati businessman affiliated with exiled former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan has been attempting to buy real estate close to the holy site for the UAE.

The businessman has been working on behalf of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan (MbZ), according to Khatib.

"This businessman offered a Jerusalem local $5 million for a house next to Al-Aqsa after he declined the offer the price was raised to $20 million," he said.

It is not clear what goal the alledged acquisitions have, but the purchase of property in east Jerusalem is a highly contentious issue, as the status of the city is one of the main issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians.

Khatib suggested the UAE is doing so as part of a scheme agreed with Israel, as pressure is exerted on the Palestinians to accept a deal on Jerusalem that would include accepting to relocate their capital to Abu Dis east of the city.

Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their long-sought future state, while Israel claims an undivided Jerusalem as its own.

Israel annexed mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War - a move never recognised by the international community.

UAE-linked Dahlan responded to the charges on Thursday, calling them "lies and fabrications" in an online statement.

Gulf states, in particular the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, are increasingly coming out in the open as allies to Israel as they find common cause against mutual foe Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu frequently boasts of growing, discreet cooperation with moderate Arab countries.

Last month, the UAE invited an Israeli minister for an official state visit.

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