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)
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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
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
"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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