Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Swap between JNF and ILA will allow for Division of Jerusalem


This is the way for the JNF to get out of the sticky situation of letting thousands of Arabs live on JNF land in East Jerusalem that was paid for by Jews for Jewish Settlement.

The JNF intends to swap it with the ILA in order to give the Israeli government possession of that land. Look closely at how this story is written--JNF will swap "developed" land for "empty space" in a 1-to-1 transfer. It doesn't pass the "smell test."

Everyone knows that developed land is much more valuable than "empty space"--and a 1-to-1 transfer just doesn't make sense. This is an incredible loss of money for the JNF. It appears the only reason for such a swap would be for the Israeli government to have ownership of the JNF properties in East Jerusalem, and therefore, the legal right to cede that land to the arabs at Anapolis.

This is a very scary deal. Most people are probably not noticing its significance in the big picture, but I can see clearly what is happening here.

It is a deal that needs to be stopped immediately if we are to prevent the division of Jerusalem.

Land deal would have state, JNF swap 60,000 dunams
Last update - 06:45 30/10/2007
By Shahar Ilan

An emerging land swap agreement between the Israel Lands Administration and the Jewish National Fund is likely to encompass 60,000 dunams from each side: The JNF will transfer 60,000 dunams of developed land to the ILA in exchange for 60,000 dunams of open space.

The deal is designed to render redundant the controversial JNF bill, which would allow the organization to continue leasing its lands only to Jews.

NF Chair Effi Stenzler told Haaretz Monday that 90 percent of the land the JNF receives will be in the Negev and 10 percent in the Galilee. The state will also pay an undetermined sum to the JNF, which has asked for NIS 900 million. That is substantially higher than the state's offer.

JNF Deputy Chair Menachem Leibowitz told Haaretz that urban JNF land sold in the future to non-Jews would include an automatic swap mechanism: The fund would transfer the land to the ILA, and in exchange would receive the purchase price plus a similar-sized plot in the Negev.

During a Knesset Economics Committee debate on the JNF bill yesterday, Committee Chair Gilad Erdan several times suggested anchoring the developing swap agreement in legislation. But Leibowitz told the panel that the JNF's management had been authorized by its board to negotiate a land swap with the Finance Ministry and the ILA, and there is no need for legislation.

Erdan also repeatedly asked representatives of human rights groups attending the meeting whether they plan to petition the High Court of Justice against the swap. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel suggested that it foresaw legal problems with the swap.

A Knesset research paper indicates that the JNF paid the state full price for absentee Arab land in the 1950s, in contradiction to claims by Arab parties that the state transferred the lands for symbolic fees. The document also shows that the JNF owns a little over 2.5 million dunams, close to 12 percent of all state lands. The organization bought almost half of that from the state.

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