JNF Land bought for Jews must be shared with Arabs

By Aaron Klein, © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

JERUSALEM – A Jewish organization that collects Jewish donor funds for the stated purpose of Jewish settlement in the Jewish state must equally allocate properties to both Jews and Arabs, Israel’s Attorney General ruled this week.

The Jewish National Fund, or JNF, has been allowing the Israeli government to manage lands it has purchased in part with hundreds of millions of dollars in Jewish donor funds solicited to enable Jewish settlement.

According to a ruling this week by Israel’s attorney general Menachem Mazuz, the Israeli government managers of JNF lands “must adhere to the principles of equality” and are “forbidden from discriminating against people based on their nationality, even when the land in question is owned by the JNF.”

Mazuz was weighing in on a Supreme Court case in which Arabs wanted to purchase properties on JNF land in northern Israel. The JNF placed the properties under Israeli government management.

The ruling follows a WND exclusive report revealing hundreds of acres of key properties in Jerusalem purchased by the JNF for Jewish settlement were instead utilized for the illegal construction of dozens of Arab apartment buildings housing thousands and United Nations facilities.

The JNF seemingly has done little to boot the Arab squatters from its land, while the Israeli government, which manages the areas, did not halt the illegal Arab construction on the Jewish-owned properties

The Jewish-owned lands recently were blocked off from Jewish sections of Jerusalem and isolated to Arab neighborhoods by Israel’s security fence.

The properties in question include over 200 acres in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Qalandiya and Kfar Akev, located near an old Israeli airport, and about 50 acres in a north Jerusalem suburb known as Shoafat, which is adjacent to the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev. The lands were legally purchased on behalf of JNF using Jewish donations in the early 1900s, immediately after the organization was founded in 1901 with the specific charge of repurchasing and developing the land of Israel for Jewish settlement.

A tour of Qalandiya and Kfar Akev found dozens of Arab apartment complexes, a Palestinian refugee camp and a U.N. school for Palestinians constructed on the land.

According to officials in Israel’s Housing Ministry, Arabs first constructed facilities illegally in Qalandiya and Kfar Akev between 1948 and 1967, prior to the 1967 Six-Day War during which Israel retook control of the entire city of Jerusalem.

Qalandiya, still owned by JNF, came under the management of the Israeli government’s Land Authority in the late 1960s.

Ministry officials say the bulk of illegal Arab construction in Qalandiya took place in the past 20 years, with construction of several new Arab apartment complexes taking place in just the past two years.

Neither the Israeli government nor JNF took any concrete measures to stop the illegal building, which continues today with at least one apartment complex in Qalandiya under construction.

Jerusalem’s Shoafat neighborhood, which has an estimated value of $3 million, was also purchased by JNF in the early 1900’s and fell under the management of the Israel Land Authority about 40 years ago. Much of the illegal Arab construction in Shoafat took place in the past 15 years, with some apartment complexes built as late as 2004.

In Qalandiya, Kfar Akev and Shoafat, Israel’s security fence cordons off the Arab sections of the JNF lands from the rest of Jewish Jerusalem.

Internal JNF documents obtained by WND outline illegal Arab construction on the Jewish-owned land. A survey of Qalandiya summarized on JNF stationery conducted in December 2000 and signed by a JNF worker states, “In a lot of the plots I find Arabs are living and building illegally and also working the JNF land without permission.”

The JNF survey goes on to document illegal construction of Arab apartment complexes and the U.N. school under the property management of Israel’s Land Authority.

JNF group misleading donors?

In response to the WND report, JND CEO Russell Robinson has been sending statements to concerned donors that the illegal construction occurred during periods the Jerusalem land was occupied by Jordan.

“During that time the Jordanian government oversaw all activities, including the U.N. building. Under international law, this makes matters pertaining to the land more complicated than what [WND describes],” states Robinson’s letter to donors.

Jordan, together with other Arab countries, attacked Israel after its founding in 1948 and administered eastern sections of Jerusalem following an armistice agreement until Jordan attacked again and Israel liberated the entire city of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. During the period of Jordan control, some new construction took place, including in areas previously purchased by Jews.

But WND obtained aerial photos of the two JNF sites in question, which Robinson claimed were illegally built upon prior to 1967.

1991 photo of Shoafat shows region entirely forest land

A photo taken in 1991 of one of the sites, Shoafat, shows the entire area was a forest – meaning all illegal Arab construction took place after 1967 while the land was under Jewish control.

An aerial photo taken in 1967 of the second site, Qalandiya, which is now a large Arab town, finds construction of a U.N. building but few other sites, indicating the vast majority of Arab construction – dozens of large apartment complexes – occurred under JNF control. WND originally reported some of the construction took place prior to 1967, but the bulk of the building occurred the past few years, under Jewish management.

Robinson did not return phone calls seeking comment.

‘Leftist millionaires’ influencing JNF?

Illegal Arab construction on Jewish-owned lands is not limited to Jerusalem. Arabs reportedly are building without permits on JNF-owned property in the Galilee and in areas outside Bethlehem. Due to Israeli military laws, Jews are barred from building on the JNF lands near Bethlehem. Also, Arabs are living illegally in JNF-owned apartments in strategic areas in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Asked to explain why the esteemed Jewish organization would allow Arabs to illegally occupy strategic land purchased for Jews, one JNF source involved in land acquisition pointed to what he claimed was the “disproportionate influence” over the organization by a small group of Jewish multimillionaires in New Jersey who lead major public fundraising efforts for the JNF.

The source said the group of wealthy NJ Jews, all of whom are real estate moguls and many of whom invest in projects as a team, are largely also donors to leftist causes associated with former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who advocates the division of Jerusalem and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

The key lands in Jerusalem upon which the JNF has allowed Arabs to illegally construct are part of the areas Peres has advocated handing to the Palestinians.

Peres currently serves as Israel’s Minister for the Development of the Negev Desert, which the JNF has been leading a massive campaign to populate, with the goal of bringing 250,000 Jewish residents there.

Peres’ face is prominently featured on JNF advertisements and material.

“The wealthy New Jersey Jews are highly politically motivated, support leftist causes and are involved in JNF affairs,” charged the JNF source. “It is unfair to Jews worldwide who donate to the JNF with certain expectations, such as that their donations will be used for Jewish settlement in Jerusalem.”

May 24, 2007 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. Ted, I presume that the government of Israel has ultimate legal authority over property rights, their administration, any governmental restrictions as regards those rights including rights of ownership and their transfer.

    Even if the lands purchased by the JNF are held solely in trust for Jews and the JNF’s ownership is so registered, that trust ownership may be subject to certain restrictions or conditions.

    It would be helpful to have an Israeli lawyer advise on this matter so we can know who is responsible and accountable for the situation regarding JNF selling land to Arabs and for allowing Arabs to build illegally on JNF land. Hopefully you have someone you can prevail upon to advise us.

  2. There is no qustion the JNF’s duty is to alone. JNF holds the land on trust for Jews. JNF is further bound by the fact that monies were raised for such purpose. The original or present doners cannot now change the Trust. Only the beneficiaries can.

    Now the problem is that the JNF arranged for the State of Israel to manage the lands. JNF may have insisted that Israel manage the lands on trust for the Jews or allowed them to manage the lands as it saw fit.

    If the later, the JNF would have been in breach of the Trust and the courts would rectify such breach. If the former then the question becomes, is Israel entitled to manage a private trust. If it isn’t, it should return the management to the JNF.

    Finally, let us assume that Israel is not bound by the trust for whatever reason, then what is its duty vis a vis what constitutes as its constitution. The Declaration which pronounced the birth of Israel says “it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” This was unfortunate because it went beyond the terms of the Mandate which only promised civil but not political rights to the Arabs in all the mandate. Nevertheless “United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel;” Thus Israel is defined as a Jewish state. Which brings us back to the conflict between being Jewish on the one hand and democratic on the other.

  3. Regardless of what the JNF has done or not done to stop, permit or just turn a blind eye to Arabs illegally building on lands the JNF owns, ultimate responsibility rests with the Israeli government.

    One can only shake their heads at the the present and past Israeli governments’ attitude which is reflected in Israel’s attorney general Menachem Mazuz’s ruling this week that

    “the Israeli government managers of JNF lands “must adhere to the principles of equality” and are “forbidden from discriminating against people based on their nationality, even when the land in question is owned by the JNF.”

    Israeli governments have in many ways and this is one of them, demonstrated that they do much better then the Christians in living the Christian principles of turning the other cheek and loving their enemies as themselves. Not even Christians are so naive and stupid to literally follow those Christian teachings.

  4. I believe that sharing should be reciprocal. All the money and arms flowing into Hamas from Saudi, Iran and Syria should be interdicted by and shared with Israel. All that land that Israel gave to the Pals in return for an expanded intifadah terror campaign, I am sure that the Pals would take joy in sharing that land once again with their Israeli friends and neighbors. And what about all that aid money that goes into educational programs such as Mickey the Terrorist Monster? I would think that the Pals would be delighted to hand those funds over to the government of Israel.

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