Tony Greenstein | 10 September 2011 | Post Views:

The Zabeidats Win After 5 Years as the Israeli Land Administration Concede to Avoid Court Ruling

It would be nice to say that the decision of the Israel Lands Administration to allow an Israeli Arab couple, the Zabeidats, to live in Rakefet, despite a decision of the towns admissions committee and 4 out of 5 members of the ILA’s own appeals committee to reject them, was a victory. And in a way it is of course, but what it doesn’t represent is the elimination of one of the fundamental pillars of Israeli Apartheid.

The ILA, together with the Jewish National Fund, owns 93% of Israeli land. Land which is off-limits to Israeli Arabs. A variety of devices have been used to get round the decision of the High Court in Kadaan and Attorney General Mazuz that the ILA can’t refuse to lease land or property to Arabs. The JNF has fought a long campaign to overturn this verdict. As the JNF says on its own website, in response to these legal developments:

‘For the first time since the State of Israel was founded, the High Court of Justice has been required to consider petitions that de-legitimize the Jewish People’s continued ownership of KKL-JNF lands. These petitions are, in fact, directed against the fundamental principles on which KKL-JNF was founded and in accordance with which it has acquired land and managed it for the past hundred years, up to the present day. The petitions constitute a demand to deprive KKL-JNF – which serves as trustee for the lands of the Jewish People – of the right to make use of these lands for the continuation of the Zionist enterprise in the Land of Israel.’

A survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.

The following is KKL-JNF’s response to the petitions that have been submitted to the Supreme Court in connection with the case regarding its rights over lands acquired for and by the Jewish People.’

There is of course no such entity as the ‘Jewish People’. It is a fictitious device, the idea of a Jewish Race. And this Jewish Nation/Race, which may live in London or Berlin, is entitled to rent this land but not the indigenous Arabs of Israel. What is amazing is that there are some people who continue to pretend that this is not racist. The land in question has been ‘acquired’ as the JNF put it, in fact the JNF in 1950-1 ‘acquired’ 2 million dunums of land, increasing its landholding by three. This land was confiscated from the Arabs and sold at rock bottom prices (some argue no money ever changed hands) to the JNF.

The Israeli State has been more clever than its counterpart in South Africa. There are no ‘Jews Only’ signs in towns. Discrimination is carried out more subtly. After the Kadan case in 1995, also against a refusal to lease land in a ‘Jewish’ town, the Knesset voted to define the letting and leasing of land to Jews only as not racist or discriminatory for legal purposes. But this was unsatisfactory, as simply saying black is white, doesn’t make it so. In the end it hit on a much better way of avoiding charges of racism. Under the Acceptance to Communities Bill 2011, in 400 towns and villages in Israel, the existing community is given a veto on new members of the ‘community’. That is the existing population which is Jewish only now has full rights to continue discriminating. (see article by Association for Civil Rights in Israel below).

In Britain and Europe, when you have a nominally neutral provision, criteria or practice, which although not explicitly discriminatory, is nonetheless more difficult for someone of a different colour, sex etc. to fulfil, that is indirectly discriminatory. For example a refusal by an employer not to allow part-time working applies to everyone – male and female. But being carers, far more women are adversely affected by such a decision and it would therefore be indirectly discriminatory. In Israel the Knesset deliberately looks for measures which, although not directly discriminatory like White South Africa, achieve the same ends. Indirect discrimination is no less pernicious than direct discrimination , it is just better concealed.

From its inception, the Israeli state, instead of discriminating itself, has used nominally non-state bodies like the JNF to carry out discrimination against Arabs. The JNF is an arms-length governmental organisation in Israel. In 1953 it was reformed as a limited company under the 1953 JNF Law. In 1960 three Basic Laws – the Basic Law: Israel Lands; Israel Lands Law; Israel Lands Administration Law were passed. And in 1961 a Covenant between the Government of Israel and the JNF was agreed. Together with the Israeli Lands Authority, which owned 80% of Israeli land, the JNF effectively became an equal partner with 6 out of 13 seats on its ruling council. Thus in practice 93% of Israeli land is out of bounds to Arab Israelis.

In order that people are not deceived by the talk of ‘the Jewish people’s inalienable right to its land’ rhetoric, imagine if in Britain 93% of land was restricted to Christians and non-Jews. There would be an uproar, cries of anti-Semitism would carry far and wide, but the JNF has the audacity to pretend that this is a mere cultural left over from the days of establishing the Israeli state. Indeed it says that ‘Every nation deserves to have a country of its own, the Jewish People included. In the sixth decade of its existence, the State of Israel is still in a process of formation. A state in the process of formation has a moral right to take extraordinary measures to ensure its future existence.’

This is an admission that Israel is still a settler-colonial state involved in a continuing battle with its indigenous population. Clearly the rights of Israeli Arabs don’t get a mention, hence the need for ‘extraordinary measures’.

Of course the JNF doesn’t hesitate to lie as when it claims that it fully paid for all its 2.5-3 million dunums of land, when it knows it paid virtually nothing for 2/3 of its land, confiscated from the Arabs who fled or who were made refugees internally.

See Max Blumenthall on Land Day, the Jewish National Fund’s Racist Legacy is Exposed

The JNF is articulating what for example Moshe Feiglin, who heads the Jewish Leadership bloc within Likud makes it quite clear what his view is of Arabs:

“For two thousand years, Jews dreamed of a Jewish state, not a democratic state. Democracy should serve the values of the state, not destroy them.” In any case, Feiglin said, “You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic. You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches.”

Tony Greenstein

6 September 2011

Palestinian residents of Sahknin, an Arab Galilee town, petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice five years ago over rejection by Rakefet’s admissions committee.

IOA Editor: The admission-committees system enables hundreds of Israeli Jewish towns and villages to reject individuals seeking to reside in them based on “incompatibility” – a sufficiently general term used to reject Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Israel Lands Administration’s reversal of a long standing policy of systematic discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens, in this instance only, is merely a tactical move designed to deal with this potentially precedent-setting legal case: All discriminatory laws and practices remain unchanged, continuing a long history of ethnic cleansing efforts on the part of all Israeli governments, “Right” and “Left” alike.

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz – 6 Sept 2011

Residents of Sahknin, Ahmed and Fatina Zabeidat, petitioned High Court of Justice five years ago over rejection by Rakefet’s admissions committee

An Arab couple will finally be permitted to take possession of a plot of land and build a house in the Jewish community of Rakefet in the Misgav region of the Galilee, the Israel Lands Administration decided last week. The decision came after a long legal battle, still ongoing, against the ILA and the community’s Admissions Committee.

The couple, Ahmed and Fatina Zabeidat, residents of Sahknin, petitioned the High Court of Justice over their rejection by Rakefet’s Admissions Committee five years ago – a story made public in a 2007 Haaretz expose.

The timing of the ILA’s decision is no coincidence. The High Court petition has yet to be decided, and thus the ILA’s step is likely to be highly influential with the justices, who are scheduled to deliberate the matter on September 13.

In approving the Zabeidats’ request, ILA acting director-general Ronen Cohen Schorr wrote that he was “convinced of the honest desire of the petitioners to blend into the life of the community and believes that their acceptance is not likely to damage the community.”

No other reasons were given for the ILA’s sudden decision, which contradicts the recommendation of the body’s Appeals Committee, in a majority opinion, to refuse the couple’s entry into Rakefet.

The Rakefet Admissions Committee rejected the couple in 2006. In the middle of that same year, the couple filed an appeal to the ILA, which is authorized to deal with such matters. After the appeal was rejected in 2007, the Zabeidats petitioned the High Court, which, in February of this year, decided that Rakefet’s Admissions Committee should reconsider the couple’s request. The High Court also ruled that if necessary, the request should also be reconsidered by the ILA’s Appeals Committee and its director-general.

The couple then reappeared before the Rakefet Admissions Committee, which again rejected them, arguing that the Zabeidats do not see Rakefet as an organized community but rather as a quiet urban suburb that will grant them a higher standard and quality of life. It also argued that the couple’s stance against the institution of the Admissions Committee and the idea of the preservation of the nature of the community were like to be injurious to it.

In their appeal, filed by attorney Souhad Bashara of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the couple argued that Rakefet was not a genuine community with a uniform identity as it claimed. They said that they had declared their interest in taking an active part in community life and agreed to accept majority rule.

Two weeks ago, the ILA Appeals Committee reconsidered the case. During the hearing, Ahmed Zabeidat said that he was familiar with some residents with whom he studied architecture at the Bezalel Academy of Art, and that the Admissions Committee’s decision did not reflect the views of all the residents. “After studying all the material, I have decided to accept the minority recommendation of the [Appeals] Committee and accept the [couple’s] appeal,” Cohen Schorr announced last Tuesday.

Rakefet’s legal counsel, attorney Doron Goshen, attacked the decision, calling it “strange” and arguing that the petition to the High Court was intended to negate the special character of such communities.
“And so, in the most sudden manner and without citing reasons, the acting director of the Israel Lands Administration has rejected the decision of the majority of the Appeals Committee, of four out of five members,” Goshen said

Attorney Bashara expressed satisfaction with the decision and said that he did not intend to withdraw the High Court petition so as to ensure that the transfer of the plot of land took place in a timely fashion, and also to allow the High Court to deliberate on the petition’s principles.

The Zabeidats were elated with the decision. “After six years, we are beginning to see the end and hope to begin to plan and build our home within a short time,” they said.

Along with the Zabeidats’ petition, the High Court will also consider one against the Admissions [committee] Law, approved several months ago by the Knesset.

The second bill to be brought for a final vote today is the Acceptance to Communities Bill, which will anchor discrimination and separatism in Israeli law by creating acceptance committees to villages of up to 400 family units in the Negev and Galilee regions.

In a legal opinion sent to Members of Knesset, ACRI attorney Gil Gan-Mor noted that in the majority of these communal villages and their expansions, life is not “communal” as it were; and yet the law will enable discrimination in acceptance to these villages based on the vague criteria of “fitting with the life of the community” or “fitting with the social fabric.” Based on these criteria, the committees currently reject “unwanted” communities that wish to live in the village – such as Arabs, single parents, disabled persons, same-sex couples, Mizrachi Jews, religious people, and so on. (To read ACRI’s full position on this bill, click here).

According to Attorney Gil Gan-Mor: “The racist, anti-Arab rhetoric used by some of the promoters of this bill is shameful, but it’s important for the public to understand that any one of us could be targeted by this bill. Israeli legislators are about to sacrifice equality and the right of every person to choose their place of residence – in favor of the extra-rights of the residents of these wealthy communities, who wish to “select” new residents on public lands.

There are currently two standing High Court appeals, submitted by residents who were rejected from such communal villages for “not socially fitting”. These couples are Ahuva and David Kempler, who wanted to live in the expansion of the Kibbutz Maayan Baruch; and Fathna and Ahmad Zbidat, who wanted to live in Rakefet. In the last hearing on this matter at the High Court of Justice, President Dorit Beinisch voiced harsh criticism on these acceptance committees and the intrusive interrogations they perform.

In an unusual step, ACRI has already announced, prior to the bill’s final vote, that if this bill will be approved ACRI, together with members of communal villages who oppose the bill and with the Abraham Fund, will appeal to the HCJ demanding its disqualification.

On 03.30.11, By Max Blumenthall

“The complete evacuation of the country from its other inhabitants and handing it over to the Jewish people is the answer.” Jewish National Fund director Yosef Weitz, March 20, 1941

“The Jewish National Fund is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners – Jewish people everywhere.” Jewish National Fund mission statement

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Land Day massacre by Israeli soldiers of unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrating against the expropriation of their farmland in the Galilee and the expansion of Jews-only settlements around their villages. According to Hatim Khanaaneh, a renowned doctor and activist whose memoir, “A Doctor In Galilee” is the best first hand account I have read of official Israeli discrimination against its Palestinian citizens, soldiers from the Golani Brigade celebrated the massacre in a nearby Jewish moshav by dancing and singing “Am Yisrael Chai.” The Land Day massacre electrified the Palestinian national movement inside Israel and popularized Toufiq Ziad’s poem, “Ounadikom” (I call out to you), an enduring cry of anti-colonial resistance that was recited this January in Cairo’s Tahrir Square by Waseem Wagdi.

On this year’s Land Day, the Jewish National Fund distributed a series of hysterical fundraising appeals and press releases that highlighted the organization’s sense of desperation. The letters are full of schnorring and devoid of content, as the JNF has no response to the factual arguments of its critics or to the reports of its recent abuses in the Negev. Instead, the organization has called for a “Stop the Hatred Day” and concocted a new slogan: “They destroy, we build.” Of course, anyone who is familiar with Al Arakib knows that it is the JNF that destroys and the indigenous Bedouins who rebuild.

Since it was founded in 1901, the JNF has been at the forefront of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. And now the group’s machinations are being exposed and countered through an effective, non-violent campaign based on a simple appeal to human dignity, international law and basic rights. It is no wonder its leadership is so defensive and desperate.

The excellent Israeli documentary “The Diaries of Yosef Nachmani” used the memoirs of one of the JNF’s top officials to expose the organization’s role in forcing Palestinian farmers off their own land, often through trickery and manipulation. JNF director Yosef Weitz was instrumental in hatching Plan Dalet, the campaign to ethnically cleanse at least 400 Palestinian villages and expel their residents in 1947 and 1948. After the war of 1948, Weitz orchestrated the planting of hundreds of thousands of non-native trees west of Jerusalem to cover up the scores of villages that had just been ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias. Today those trees look as natural to the landscape of the Judean Hills as the hair plugs on Joe Biden’s scalp.

The Land Day protests were sparked by the Israeli government’s “Judaization” of the Galilee, a plan that led to mass expropriations by the Israel Land Authority (ILA). Through a 1960 law, ILA was required to allocate half of the seats in its council to the JNF. A law the following year clearly stated the JNF existed “for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties.” In other words, the JNF openly discriminated on the basis of ethnicity. Having acquired 70 percent of its land through confiscations from Palestinian refugees and present absentees through the Absentee Property Law of 1950, the JNF became a key mechanism for expropriation and ethnic cleansing under the guise of developing Israel for its Jewish citizens.

The 1995 Supreme Court Ka’adan ruling forbade the ILA from leasing land exclusively through the JNF. The court made its ruling on the grounds that the JNF openly discriminates against non-Jews. However, a Knesset vote in 2007 undermined the ruling, prompting the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to editorialize: “The Jewish National Fund’s land policy counters the interests of the state and cannot discriminate by law against the minority living in Israel.” (The title of the editorial was, “A Racist and Jewish State.”)

Today, though the ILA is able to sell some of its land to private developers, the JNF still controls 6 of 13 seats on the ILA’s council while maintaining numerous arrangements for land swaps with the state. With the ILA in possession of 93 percent of Israel’s land, the JNF remains in a prime position to dictate how the Galilee and Negev are “Judaized.” But as Alaa Mahajneh of the Palestinian-Israeli legal rights center Adalah points out, the increasingly complex arrangements make legislating equality from within the Israeli legal system even more difficult.

In recent years, the JNF has focused its efforts on an area in the Negev known as Al Arakib. It is the ancestral home of the Al Touri Bedouin tribe. In 1951, the Bedouins were removed from their land by the Israeli army, which told them they could return once it completed a series of training exercises. Years passed until the tribe came back, but by then they were considered “present absentees” thanks to the aforementioned Absentee Property Law. This meant that they were internal refugees with no rights to their own land, even if they had property deeds. Their land had been transfered into the hands of the Development Authority, the custodian for confiscated land at the time, and then handed over to the ILA, which eventually authorized the JNF to do what it does best: ethnic cleansing.

Nuri El Okbi, a veteran Bedouin rights activist from Al Arakib, attempted to move back to his family’s property, where the ruins of his father’s house lay. Not only did El Okbi have land deeds his parents had saved in a halvah box to prove their right to the land, he had aerial photos dating from 1947 that clearly showed his family’s home and fields. Each time he encamped there, however, Israeli police officers removed him by force. After the 40th attempt to return, El-Okbi received a restraining order forbidding him from setting foot on the land he spent his childhood. He can not return because he is not a Jew. In other countries during other times, this was considered apartheid.

Since the JNF has set its sights on Al Arakib, the village has been destroyed 21 times. Israeli police have used rubber bullets, percussion grenades, teargas, batons and bulldozers against women, children, and the elderly — all unarmed — in their effort to remove the Bedouin un-people from the area so the JNF can go to work. During the first destruction of Al Arakib, a squad of Israeli high school age students were hired to remove belongings from the homes of Al Arakib residents — the “Summer Camp of Destruction.” The students vandalized homes in the process and reportedly belted out the familiar “Am Yisrael Chai!” when the bulldozers moved in. ILA bulldozers accompanied by riot police have attempted to destroy and desecrate the Al Arakib cemetary, which contains graves more than a century old. And recently, the Israel State’s Attorney Office has announced plans to sue the residents of Al Arakib for $1 million shekels for the demolition of their own homes.

To complete its project in and around Al Arakib, the JNF has accepted millions of dollars in funding from a racist and anti-Semitic evangelical broadcasting network, GOD TV, that openly propagates End Times theology demanding that all Jews to convert to Christianity or suffer in an “everlasting lake of fire.” With the JNF’s help, GOD TV’s huckstering CEO Rory Alec will be able to fulfill his mission of “redeeming the land for Christ” by building “GOD TV Forest” on the ruins of Al Arakib. Meanwhile, Alec has lavished money on Givot Bar, a Jewish town in the area that is likely to benefit from the newly approved Communities Acceptance Law allowing small communities to openly discriminate against applicants on the basis of ethnicity and sexual orientation (and it is unlikely that blue collar Mizrahi Jews will be able to afford the 5000 Shekel application fee Givot Bar requires).

Recently, the Australian television news show Dateline produced an excellent report on Al Arakib. Dateline told the story of El Okbi, comparing him to the Australian aboriginal rights advocate Eddie Mabo, who won a landmark court case eliminating the white colonists’ legal fiction of Terra Nullius, a concept that still forms the basis of Israeli land confiscations.

Dateline then interviewed Shlomo Szizar, an official from the JNF’s bureaucratic parent, the ILA. In three lines, Siza summarized the logic of the JNF and the Zionist movement that brought it into being: “Every year, [the Bedouins] invade and we remove them. They invade and we remove them. We’re not going to let this land be invaded.”

Having turned the indigenous people of Palestine into “invaders” in their own land, the JNF’s leadership insists that their intentions are good. “I can tell you one simple thing,” JNF CEO Russell Robinson wrote in a March 28 email newsletter. “No other organization is doing anywhere near as much as JNF is to help enhance the quality of life for this [Bedouin] population.”

Go here and here to take action to stop the JNF.

For the first time since the State of Israel was founded, the High Court of Justice has been required to consider petitions that de-legitimize the Jewish People’s continued ownership of KKL-JNF lands. These petitions are, in fact, directed against the fundamental principles on which KKL-JNF was founded and in accordance with which it has acquired land and managed it for the past hundred years, up to the present day. The petitions constitute a demand to deprive KKL-JNF – which serves as trustee for the lands of the Jewish People – of the right to make use of these lands for the continuation of the Zionist enterprise in the Land of Israel.

A survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.

The following is KKL-JNF’s response to the petitions that have been submitted to the Supreme Court in connection with the case regarding its rights over lands acquired for and by the Jewish People.
The Perpetual Property of the Jewish People

In 1901 the Fifth Zionist Congress met in Basel. The Zionist Movement, under the leadership of its visionary leader, Dr. Binyamin Zeev Herzl, progressed from the declaratory to the practical stage of its activities: redeeming land in Zion. The Congress established a Jewish National Fund to act as purchaser of lands that would be “the perpetual property of the Jewish People,” i.e. property that would never be expropriated from them.
KKL-JNF was appointed trustee and custodian of this land on behalf of the Jewish People.

These are not State lands. All KKL-JNF land has been legally purchased and paid for in full. Remember the little blue collection box? Tens of thousand of Jews all over the entire world used it for decades to save cent after cent. They did this so that these funds could be used to acquire land in the Land of Israel and so that this land could be maintained and prepared for use by the Jewish People. This means that KKL-JNF was a trustee on behalf of the Jewish People only. It was created for their sake, and it acts in their interests.

KKL-JNF continued to perform this function after the State of Israel was founded, too. The distinction here is very clear: the State owns over 80% of Israel’s land. This land is available for use by all residents of the State, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. KKL-JNF owns over 10% of Israel’s land, and the rest is either in private hands or owned by public or religious bodies. The Muslim waqf, for example, holds about 3% of Israel’s land, and this is available for use only by Muslims.

The Position of KKL-JNF

All KKL-JNF land was paid for in full with money contributed by Jews all over the world.
The issue of KKL-JNF land, which has been the subject of extensive debate recently, proves, unfortunately, that some people in this country have short memories. It is sad to see the unbearable ease with which people sling mud at an organization whose signature is all over the State and its history and which, for many people, constitutes a symbol of national unity.

Zionism, which celebrated its hundredth anniversary a number of years ago, again finds itself rejected and under attack by people whose memories have simply let them down. Zionism is not the mark of Cain, and there is no reason why it has to justify itself again in a country that calls itself Jewish and democratic. On the contrary – Zionism and its objectives continue to play a central role in the ideological infrastructure of the State. This is a Jewish State that belongs to the Jewish People and serves as a Jewish center, and it is also the State of all its citizens.

The State may be under an obligation to treat all its citizens equally before the law. Equality is in the interests of Jews and Arabs alike. This common interest makes it incumbent upon the Jewish majority to allow minorities to integrate into the life of the State. The non-Jewish minority, for its part, has to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state and understand that the struggle for equal rights does not entail abrogating the definition of Israel as a Jewish state. Just as the majority respects the symbols of the minority, so must the minority respect those of the majority. There is no contradiction between the State’s obligation to set a land-use policy based on equality as far as State land is concerned, and the right of the Jewish People to safeguard its assets, which, as we mentioned earlier, have become an essential symbol of its unity.

A state is obliged to abide by the principle of equality but a people does not give up its assets. KKL-JNF is an organization that belongs to the Jewish People and it serves as its trustee for land purchased over the course of a hundred years with money contributed by Jews in Israel and throughout the world. This money was dropped cent by cent into the little blue box. The State of Israel officially recognized KKL-JNF’s unique role in the covenant it signed with the organization in 1961, which granted KKL-JNF special independent status, and thus its ownership of its lands is independent of and separate from the State. KKL-JNF’s main objective, which is mentioned both in the covenant and in its company regulations, is Jewish settlement – on KKL-JNF land, of course. This goal is a direct extension of the Law of Return, which also applies only to Jews, and it is designed to strengthen the Jewish State.

KKL-JNF belongs to the Jewish People. It came into being at the Zionist Congress and united Diaspora Jews from all over the world. For 2000 years Jews lived scattered in exile, with no property rights and no safe haven, at the mercy of anti-Semitism, massacres, expulsions, riots, pogroms, injustice and discrimination. The establishment of the State of Israel was intended to right the historical injustice perpetrated against the Jewish People. Every nation deserves to have a country of its own, the Jewish People included. In the sixth decade of its existence, the State of Israel is still in a process of formation. A state in the process of formation has a moral right to take extraordinary measures to ensure its future existence. The Law of Return and specially designated use of the land owned by the Jewish People are two examples of such measures, and their moral admissibility cannot be called into question. Therefore, we must not be ashamed of our ownership of land designated for the purpose of Jewish settlement. The Jewish People has a right to its own land within the Jewish State.

The petitions submitted to the High Court of Justice recently seek to remove KKL-JNF lands from the ownership of the Jewish People and turn them into State land like any other. In other words, the petitioners want the State of Israel to turn its back on KKL-JNF land’s role in the service of the Jewish People over the generations. Dr. Herzl, when he envisioned the Jewish State, most certainly never imagined that one hundred years later that State’s High Court of Justice would be called upon to express an opinion on the constitutional legitimacy of KKL-JNF’s ownership of its lands as the trustee of the Jewish People. The existence of land reserves held by the Jewish People in perpetuity and used for purposes of Jewish settlement is a fundamental part of our legal system. If the Jewish State does not permit a Zionist organization to own land and designate it for purposes of developing Jewish settlement, what is the point of its existence? All land owned by KKL-JNF was paid for in full with money contributed by Jews all over the world.

KKL-JNF owns approximately 2.5 million dunam of land (one dunam equals around a quarter of an acre). About one million dunam were acquired by KKL-JNF by means of money contributed by Jews all over the world before the State of Israel was founded. Another million and a quarter dunam of land were purchased by KKL-JNF in the early years of the State and paid for in full, again by means of donations from Jews throughout the world. These were regular property deals in every way, on the strength of which full and complete ownership of this land passed into the hands of KKL-JNF, and the State has no part in it or right of possession over it. State-owned land, as we pointed out before, must be at the disposal of all citizens. But land owned by KKL-JNF is the property of the Jewish People and is designated for the attainment of its following objectives: ensuring the existence of a Jewish State and strengthening, developing and preserving the Jewish character of that State.

The historical facts have fallen victim to those who promote a “post-Zionist” agenda. These people believe that Israel was presented to the Jewish People on a silver platter, and that the curtain has come down on everything that happened in the past. Unfortunately, however, the struggle to establish the State of Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East is not over: it has yet to allow Israel to live in peace with its neighbors and enjoy official recognition of its Jewish character. KKL-JNF and its lands are a cornerstone of this struggle.

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Tony Greenstein

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