Amid growing outcry, KKL-JNF delays controversial West Bank land purchase vote
The president of the Jewish National Fund decided to delay a controversial vote Thursday that would allow the agency to buy land in the West Bank, amid growing repression from members and supporters abroad.
The decision, which was first reported by the Walla news site, followed a letter sent earlier this month to KKL-JNF president Avi Duvdevani by seven board members representing centrist and leftist organizations demanding that the pressure to change the agency’s policy be suspended.
“We have no intention of acting forcefully. This is not our way. We want to make an orderly and relaxed decision on this issue. I hope this step [of delaying the vote] will help promote good, concrete discussion, ”Duvdevani wrote in a message to board members to inform them of the decision.
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The KKL-JNF chairman did not indicate a new date on which the vote would take place.
In February, the KKL-JNF voted the allocation of 38 million shekels ($ 11.58 million) for the purchase of land in the West Bank. The controversial vote indicated a change in policy – KKL-JNF would take operations beyond the Green Line to another level, buying land with the aim of expanding settlements. (KKL-JNF is a separate entity from JNF-USA.)
The original February decision, which was passed by a single vote, clarified that there would be no shopping in the neighborhoods of the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Jenin – areas with very few Jewish settlements. In the current proposal, the note was omitted, the Haaretz daily reported. The policy still needed several more votes to be officially put into place, with the latest slated for Thursday before the full board.
According to the proposal that has been put forward, KKL-JNF will only purchase private land, with a preference for land where settlements already exist or which allow the expansion of existing settlements.
If Israel asks the KKL-JNF to buy land that does not meet these criteria, the decision will be left to the KKL-JNF board of directors. The committee will be able to authorize the purchase of any land that does not meet these criteria while it is under Israel’s jurisdiction, Haaretz said.
KKL-JNF, established in 1901 to purchase and develop land for Jewish settlements and best known for the hundreds of millions of trees it planted across Israel, serves as the guardian of the Jewish people for approximately 15% of the land in the country, the direction of which is carried out by the Israel Land Authority.
An organization officially registered as a public benefit enterprise, KKL-JNF operates in the fields of forestry, water, education, community development, tourism, and research and development. The World Zionist Organization is its parent body.