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Rightist MK: Fire AG for letting non-Jews buy JNF land (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Yuval Yoaz and Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service 01/27/05 13:39 (GMT+2)Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/532493.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
National Union MK Aryeh Eldad called Thursday for the dismissal of Menachem Mazuz after the attorney general decided that all land managed by the Israel Lands Administration, including land owned by the Jewish National Fund, must be marketed without discrimination or limits - a revolutionary change in the JNF policy of marketing land to Jews only.

Eldad said Mazuz has violated Israel´s declaration of independence by preferring Israel´s democratic characteristic to its definition as a Jewish state.

The decision was made in preparation for the state´s response to High Court petitions filed on the matter. Haaretz has learned that senior members of the state prosecutor´s office believe that the JNF policy is unreasonably discriminatory against non-Jews, and will be very difficult to defend in court.

Within the next few weeks, the state is supposed to inform the High Court of its position on petitions filed against the Israel Lands Administration, which prevents non-Jews from participating in tenders for JNF land.

Nevertheless, in order to preserve the original designated purpose of the JNF, which is formally defined as an organization working "on behalf of the Jewish nation," and in the name of the interests of the Diaspora Jews, it was decided that if any ILA tender for land owned by the JNF is won by a non-Jewish citizen, the ILA will transfer alternative land to the JNF.

This arrangement, say Justice Ministry sources, will achieve two objectives. On the one hand, it will preserve the principle of equality and cancel the discrimination against Arabs. On the other hand, the JNF will retain its current quota - some 13 percent of state land - and this land will continue to come under the JNF´s principle of using this land "for the purpose of settling Jews."

The move elicited an outcry among right-wing politicians, while some on the left praised the decision as a step toward greater equality.

"The attorney general´s decision is clearly wretched and anti- Zionist," said MK Yitzhak Levy (National Religious Party). "More than anything it testifies to the widening crack in the wall of Zionist, Jewish and Israeli belief."

MK Nissan Slomiansky, also from the NRP, warned that the ruling could pave the way for a binational state.

"The attorney general chose to sacrifice the last Jewish institution on the altar of equality," he said. "Will the next phase be that the State of Israel will be defined as a Jewish-Arab state?"

Meanwhile, Yahad chairman Yossi Beilin lauded the decision as a matter of "pride for Zionism."

"The decision constitutes the fulfillment of the true approach of a Zionism that believes in a state with a Jewish majority that provides equal rights for its citizens," he said.

Shinui MK Ilan shalgi said the JNF is no longer needed in the first place.

"The JNF has an important historic task that finished with the establishment of the state," he said. "The State of Israel must have a policy of marketing lands equally to all its citizens." (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/27/05)

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