Next week, the Board of Directors of the KKL-JNF (Keren Kayemet L’Israel / Jewish National Fund) will convene to discuss and approve a budget of 100 million shekels to undertake registration procedures of enormous areas of land it has supposedly acquired on both sides of the Green Line. While believed by the board to be necessary for “good governance”, this transfer of land rights is a harbinger of thousands of potential eviction lawsuits against Palestinians currently living on the areas in question.
About the Process
KKL-JNF documents reveal that these lands include at least 2,500 dunams (2.5 sq. km / nearly 1 sq mile) in East Jerusalem said to have been purchased before 1948. The lands allegedly purchased before 1948 are under the auspices of Israeli General Custodian, and the KKL-JNF can claim them based on the discriminatory 1970 legislation that allows for the acquisition of property in East Jerusalem – now mostly inhabited by Palestinians - based on the claim of alleged Jewish ownership prior to 1948. There is no parallel legal measure for Palestinians who lost land on the Israeli side of the Green Line in the same war. This is the same legislation that is the basis for eviction demands currently underway against Palestinian communities in Sheikh Jarrah, Batan al-Hawa (Silwan), families in the Old City, and other parts of East Jerusalem.
Once the lands are claimed from the General Custodian, KKL-JNF intends to use the land settlement and registration process in order to register the lands to its ownership. When completed, the registration process finalizes ownership rights and is perceived as conclusive and nearly irrefutable evidence for ownership; therefore, once the registration has reached its final stage, there is almost no room to appeal ownership. In past years, KKL-JNF was involved in eviction demands against Palestinian families living in homes KKL-JNF claims to own. This was sometimes carried out in collusion with settler organizations like ELAD, such as in the case of the Sumarin family in Silwan that is currently before the courts.
The decision to suddenly transfer this land to the KKL-JNF, which was initiated by a high-ranking individual within the General Custodian who is known to be active in settler projects, follows Ir Amim’s uncovering of a series of alarming Israeli decisions that aim to misuse land registration mechanisms in East Jerusalem for registering sizable areas of land to Israeli authorities or settlers on behalf of settler organizations. These moves are being conducted without proper disclosure or publication, therefore preventing Palestinians from challenging and protecting their property rights.
75 Palestinian families on an area of 35 dunams are currently under threat of eviction from ownership lawsuits levelled by settler organizations in Sheikh Jarrah.
85 families on an area of 5 dunams face a similar threat in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan.
Transferring 2,500 dunams of land from the General Custodian to the KKL-JNF will lay the groundwork for potentially thousands of more eviction demands.
What You Can Do
Ir Amim, Peace Now, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Torat Tzedek have been in contact with members of the board to shed light on the expected consequences of this decision.
We need your help to show them the importance of their vote.
Join us in calling on members of JNF-KKL’s Board of Directors to #RegisterMyDissent and vote against this land registration process that would put thousands of Palestinian families at risk of eviction.