Exclusive: Documents reveal decades of close cooperation between JNF and Elad

October 20, 2020
The Jewish National Fund has allowed settlement group Elad to pursue legal actions on its behalf since the 1980s, an internal report reveals. The collaboration has led to the eviction of Palestinians while bolstering Jewish presence in East Jerusalem.

Amal Sumarin, her sons and their attorney arrives for a court hearing regarding the JNF-KKL appeal to evict them from their family home 

Uri Blau writes in +972, “The Sumarin family has long been a symbol for the struggle between Palestinians and Israeli settlers over the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Located next to Al-Aqsa Mosque and sharing a fence with the City of David, an archaeological site and Jewish tourist attraction, the Sumarin home has been the target of an eviction legal battle since the early 1990s, led by the Jewish National Fund (JNF).”

“Recently, however, the struggle over the Sumarin home has exposed an even deeper story. In August, it was unveiled that Elad, an organization that promotes Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, has been advancing the case in the Israeli courts from behind the scenes. As international public pressure has mounted on the JNF over the slated eviction, the relationship between Elad and the JNF appears to have soured. It was even reported last week that some inside the organization are trying to pull the plug on the cooperation with Elad around the Sumarin home, with a decision likely to be made on Monday.”

“Yet the Sumarin case is only the tip of the iceberg. An internal 1998 JNF report, revealed here on +972 Magazine for the first time, alongside other historical documents and interviews held in recent weeks, portray a deliberate, close, and fruitful cooperation between the two organizations that goes as far back as the 1980s. This collaboration, which included personal handwritten letters and contracts, shows the JNF willingly granted Elad the right to pursue cases on its behalf — resulting in the taking over of various properties in Silwan. “Nothing was done in secrecy,” the report’s author told +972 last week.”…

“Elad’s ability to promote its activities in Silwan is backed by significant financial resources. According to its financial reports, Elad received donations of about NIS 700 million (over USD $200 million) between 2005 and 2018, the last year for which public records are available. As exposed in a BBC Arabic documentary last month, nearly half of that sum arrived from just four British Virgin Island companies, controlled by one of Israel’s richest people, Russian oligarch and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich. A further NIS 320 million came from the NY-based tax-deductible “Friends of Ir David.” (more)

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