Jewish National Fund votes to take back control of vast swathes of land

This is no small matter. To learn more read: Battle heats up between Israel, JNF over land sales.

In 2007, another issue loomed:High Court delays ruling on JNF land sales to non-Jews The JNF has long insisted that its lands be sold only to Jews, due to the fact that the land was purchased with money from Jewish donors for the purpose of settling Jews in the Land of Israel. The matter never came back to the Court so some kind of compromise was agreed to. Anybody know? At that time it was suggested that one of the reasons that the Court was going to rule that such practices were discriminatory was that the lands were administered by the Israel Land Authority. Now that the land is being taken out of their hands, perhaps for the JNF to discriminate will be lawful.

What do you think? Is it better for the lands to be administered by the ILA or the JNF?Ted Belman

Organization says it won’t renew 50-year-old agreement that let government manage land spread over 12% of the country.


The Jewish National Fund’s board voted late on Wednesday not to renew a half-century old agreement governing its relations with the Israeli government, a move that means the organization will begin gradually taking back control of vast amounts of land now managed by the state.

The land involved amounts to some 2.5 million dunams (625,000) acres, equal to 12% of territorial Israel and 20% of all the land not counting the thinly populated Negev region.

The decision comes weeks after the Finance Ministry informed the JNF it was planning legislation that would require the organization to turn over 65% of all income it derives from the land to the government. The funds would be used by Israel for infrastructure projects aimed at increasing the supply of housing.

The JNF, which bitterly opposed the plan, said in a statement released after the board meeting that forcing it to hand over so much of its income “constitutes fundamental breach of the [1961] agreement” and will hurt “every citizen of Israel and the Jewish nation.”

“We won’t allow the destruction of the Zionist enterprise and projects the JNF undertakes from its own funds for the public good – forests, parks, bicycle trails, improving land, reservoirs, project in peripheral areas and others – in order to cover budget deficits created by treasury officials,” the JNF said.

The land today is controlled by the JNF – famous among Diaspora Jews for its iconic blue-and-white charity boxes – but has been managed by the government’s Israel Land Authority since the two sides signed an agreement in 1961.

Neither the Finance Ministry nor the ILA was available for comment. The treasury is seeking to get a hold of JNF income as it struggles to tap new revenue sources for the 2015 budget while at the same time trying to reverse a sharp rise in Israeli housing prices in the last several years.

The JNF said the board’s decision came after all attempts at negotiations with the treasury failed to stop what it called the “nationalization” of its assets. It emphasized that its 37-member board represents a wide range of political views but nevertheless approved the decision to hand over the land unanimously.

Refusing to renew the 1961 agreement, means that the JNF will now manage its own lands and will freeze much of the work it now does, including planting and tending forests on state land at an estimated cost of 350 million shekels ($93 million) annually.

It will also cease to contribute the one third of the budget of the ILA. Moreover, the JNF said it would begin selling off some of its land in a way that will “lead to increased competition and lower prices for housing in the country.”

November 1, 2014 | 7 Comments »

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7 Comments / 7 Comments

  1. @ mar55:

    I recently saw the film “Tora Tora Tora”.

    No Jews.

    Just a bunch of angry Japanese guys.

    What a gyp.

    You know that you are attending a Reform synagogue when the Torah casing features a likeness of Saeb Erekat and Abu Mazen.

  2. @ mar55:

    Israel has many defects most are carry overs from our original Socialist and Bolshevik founders and the old labor party who riled here for almost 30 continuous years.

    Politicians are much the same the world over and just as one should not expect all rabbis to be Holy men neither should Jews view of dysfunction and corruption of our politicins and some rabbis as reflective of the general population nor the norm.

    This the message that should be presented.

    From an EX christian pastor missionary now an orthodox rabbi.

  3. @ bernard ross:

    Stop funding the JNF until they shed the Leftist defeatist leadership and replace them with Nationalist Zionist patriotic leaders.

    Better yet there is no reason anymore to have such an institution as they usurp the legit functions of elected government and create a mammoth bureaucracy unanswerable to anybody. They are a throwback to pre-state Zionist institutions.

  4. If Jews are not settled on the land bought with donations for that purpose then the JNF and GOI are guilty of breach of trust AND criminal fraud. Where are Jewish groups for a class action suit?

  5. I’m surprised at the amount of ignorance about the Israeli issues. In some cases people who go regularly to Israel.

    And in some cases, ISRAELIS as well!!!
    I commented a few months ago about being visited by a few sets of Israeli friends.
    One lives in tel aviv (partial explanation, to being clueless… 🙁 )
    when I started to go on an endless rant about Peres (spit!) he stopped me and said you can’t say these things… He is a special man… A category apart…
    I truly didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry or just to tell him that I don’t want to scrap a 45 year old friendship for his ignorance…

    Another one, lives in kochav yair and is not very political… Shoyin.

    But the ‘crème de la crème’ as far as I’m concerned, is an ex paratrooper who fought in the six day war in jerusalem’s ammunition hill battle… He is an ardent Zionist (thank God!) but really believes America to be our staunchest ally,
    More than once he countered with… “Yes but if we do xyz…what would they (us,eu) say?…”
    I couldn’t believe that HE would actually say that….
    But he did… 🙁

  6. Ted, I do not know anything about the legalities involved.
    How does this affect the current situation with the rest of the world trying to take away Israel territory? Wuld this makes it more or less difficult for the so called “negotiations” with the rest of the world? Does it involve any of the territory the US wants to give to the fake people? Would you or Bernard Ross please explain.
    I need to know because I always spread the message of Israel whether is in the Shul,in the market where I go and anywhere where there are Jews who will listen. I’m surprised at the amount of ignorance about the Israeli issues. In some cases people who go regularly to Israel.
    They go, visit family or simply vacation and have a good time. Israel is more than a place to enjoy a good time. It is our roots. The place where our forefathers were told too build a nation. It is also a beacon to the world. An example to follow.