TEHRAN (Press Shia) – An Emirati businessman close to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed, is trying to buy Palestinian houses and properties in Jerusalem (al-Quds), especially those which are close to Al-Aqsa Mosque, a report said.

According to the report by the Middle East Monitor, it is said that he is doing this through a businessman from Jerusalem who’s affiliated with exiled former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan.

Kamal Khatib, a former deputy leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, warned in a statement on June 6 that the businessman offered $5 million to a local Palestinian to buy his house adjacent to Al-Aqsa.

The house owner, apparently, declined, even when the initial offer was raised to $20m. Khatib warned that such efforts are similar to those in 2014, when “Mohammed Bin Zayed’s regime” bought houses in Silwan and Wadi Hilwa in occupied East Jerusalem in order to sell them to Israeli settler organizations.

In 2014, during East Jerusalem’s largest influx of Jewish settlers in two decades, 35 apartments and houses in Silwan, which is a densely populated Palestinian neighborhood on the outskirts of the Old City of Jerusalem, ended up in settlers’ hands.

At the time, Kamal Khatib and Raed Salah (the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel) accused the UAE of playing a major intermediary role in the sale of the properties to settlers’ groups.

Using such tactics as house demolitions and withdrawal of residency permits, Israel has changed the demographic makeup of East Jerusalem from being nearly 100 percent Palestinian in 1967 to a 63 percent Jewish majority in the city today. The change has accelerated over the past 10 years; in 2008, Jews made up less than half of the population.

Homeowners in East Jerusalem generally refuse under any circumstances to sell properties to Israeli settlers.

The vast majority of the properties sold to Jewish institutions have been made by fraudulent or deceptive means, sometimes using intermediaries or straw men to fool Palestinians into thinking that their homes will still be in safe hands. Occasionally, imposters who pose as the homeowners have been used.