Jewish People Land

In response to petitions submitted to the Supreme Court, KKL-JNF emphasized the importance of Zionism, alongside the fact that the Jewish state belongs to the Jewish people, and that it is also the state of all its citizens

KKL-JNF – Trustee for the Jewish People on its land

For the first time since the State of Israel was founded, the High Court of Justice has been required to consider petitions that de-legitimize the Jewish People’s continued ownership of KKL-JNF lands. These petitions are, in fact, directed against the fundamental principles on which KKL-JNF was founded and in accordance with which it has acquired land and managed it for the past hundred years, up to the present day.

The petitions constitute a demand to deprive KKL-JNF – which serves as trustee for the lands of the Jewish People – of the right to make use of these lands for the continuation of the Zionist enterprise in the Land of Israel.

A survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.

The following is KKL-JNF’s response to the petitions that have been submitted to the Supreme Court in connection with the case regarding its rights over lands acquired for and by the Jewish People.
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The Perpetual Property of the Jewish People

In 1901, the Fifth Zionist Congress met in Basel. The Zionist Movement, under the leadership of its visionary leader, Dr. Binyamin Zeev Herzl, progressed from the declaratory to the practical stage of its activities: redeeming land in Zion. The Congress established a Jewish National Fund to act as purchaser of lands that would be “the perpetual property of the Jewish People,” i.e. property that would never be expropriated from them.

KKL-JNF was appointed trustee and custodian of this land on behalf of the Jewish People.

These are not State lands. All KKL-JNF land has been legally purchased and paid for in full. Remember the little blue collection box? Tens of thousand of Jews all over the entire world used it for decades to save cent after cent. They did this so that these funds could be used to acquire land in the Land of Israel and so that this land could be maintained and prepared for use by the Jewish People. This means that KKL-JNF was a trustee on behalf of the Jewish People only. It was created for their sake, and it acts in their interests.

KKL-JNF continued to perform this function after the State of Israel was founded, too. The distinction here is very clear: the State owns over 80% of Israel’s land. This land is available for use by all residents of the State, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. KKL-JNF owns over 10% of Israel’s land, and the rest is either in private hands or owned by public or religious bodies. The Muslim waqf, for example, holds about 3% of Israel’s land, and this is available for use only by Muslims.
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The Position of KKL-JNF

All KKL-JNF land was paid for in full with money contributed by Jews all over the world.

The issue of KKL-JNF land, which has been the subject of extensive debate recently, proves, unfortunately, that some people in this country have short memories. It is sad to see the unbearable ease with which people sling mud at an organization whose signature is all over the State and its history and which, for many people, constitutes a symbol of national unity.

Zionism, which celebrated its hundredth anniversary a number of years ago, again finds itself rejected and under attack by people whose memories have simply let them down. Zionism is not the mark of Cain, and there is no reason why it has to justify itself again in a country that calls itself Jewish and democratic. On the contrary – Zionism and its objectives continue to play a central role in the ideological infrastructure of the State. This is a Jewish State that belongs to the Jewish People and serves as a Jewish center, and it is also the State of all its citizens.

The State may be under an obligation to treat all its citizens equally before the law. Equality is in the interests of Jews and Arabs alike. This common interest makes it incumbent upon the Jewish majority to allow minorities to integrate into the life of the State. The non-Jewish minority, for its part, has to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state and understand that the struggle for equal rights does not entail abrogating the definition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Just as the majority respects the symbols of the minority, so must the minority respect those of the majority. There is no contradiction between the State’s obligation to set a land-use policy based on equality as far as State land is concerned, and the right of the Jewish People to safeguard its assets, which, as we mentioned earlier, have become an essential symbol of its unity.

A state is obliged to abide by the principle of equality but a people does not give up its assets. KKL-JNF is an organization that belongs to the Jewish People and it serves as its trustee for land purchased over the course of a hundred years with money contributed by Jews in Israel and throughout the world. This money was dropped cent by cent into the little blue box. The State of Israel officially recognized KKL-JNF’s unique role in the covenant it signed with the organization in 1961, which granted KKL-JNF special independent status, and thus its ownership of its lands is independent of and separate from the State.

KKL-JNF’s main objective, which is mentioned both in the covenant and in its company regulations, is Jewish settlement – on KKL-JNF land, of course. This goal is a direct extension of the Law of Return, which also applies only to Jews, and it is designed to strengthen the Jewish State.KKL-JNF’s main objective, which is mentioned both in the covenant and in its company regulations, is Jewish settlement – on KKL-JNF land, of course. This goal is a direct extension of the Law of Return, which also applies only to Jews, and it is designed to strengthen the Jewish State.
KKL-JNF belongs to the Jewish People. It came into being at the Zionist Congress and united Diaspora Jews from all over the world. For 2000 years Jews lived scattered in exile, with no property rights and no safe haven, at the mercy of anti-Semitism, massacres, expulsions, riots, pogroms, injustice and discrimination. The establishment of the State of Israel was intended to right the historical injustice perpetrated against the Jewish People.

Every nation deserves to have a country of its own, the Jewish People included. In the sixth decade of its existence, the State of Israel is still in a process of formation. A state in the process of formation has a moral right to take extraordinary measures to ensure its future existence. The Law of Return and specially designated use of the land owned by the Jewish People are two examples of such measures, and their moral admissibility cannot be called into question. Therefore, we must not be ashamed of our ownership of land designated for the purpose of Jewish settlement. The Jewish People has a right to its own land within the Jewish State.

The petitions submitted to the High Court of Justice recently seek to remove KKL-JNF lands from the ownership of the Jewish People and turn them into State land like any other. In other words, the petitioners want the State of Israel to turn its back on KKL-JNF land’s role in the service of the Jewish People over the generations. Dr. Herzl, when he envisioned the Jewish State, most certainly never imagined that one hundred years later, that State’s High Court of Justice would be called upon to express an opinion on the constitutional legitimacy of KKL-JNF’s ownership of its lands as the trustee of the Jewish People.

The existence of land reserves held by the Jewish People in perpetuity and used for purposes of Jewish settlement is a fundamental part of our legal system. If the Jewish State does not permit a Zionist organization to own land and designate it for purposes of developing Jewish settlement, what is the point of its existence? All land owned by KKL-JNF was paid for in full with money contributed by Jews all over the world.

KKL-JNF owns approximately 2.5 million dunam of land (one dunam equals around a quarter of an acre). About one million dunam were acquired by KKL-JNF by means of money contributed by Jews all over the world before the State of Israel was founded. Another million and a quarter dunam of land were purchased by KKL-JNF in the early years of the State and paid for in full, again by means of donations from Jews throughout the world. These were regular property deals in every way, on the strength of which full and complete ownership of this land passed into the hands of KKL-JNF, and the State has no part in it or right of possession over it.

State-owned land, as we pointed out before, must be at the disposal of all citizens. But land owned by KKL-JNF is the property of the Jewish People and is designated for the attainment of its following objectives: ensuring the existence of a Jewish State and strengthening, developing and preserving the Jewish character of that State.

The historical facts have fallen victim to those who promote a "post-Zionist" agenda. These people believe that Israel was presented to the Jewish People on a silver platter, and that the curtain has come down on everything that happened in the past. Unfortunately, however, the struggle to establish the State of Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East is not over: it has yet to allow Israel to live in peace with its neighbors and enjoy official recognition of its Jewish character. KKL-JNF and its lands are a cornerstone of this struggle.

KKL-JNF – A Green Global Organization for ALL Residents of Israel

KKL-JNF’s extensive activities are carried out in the name of the Jewish People for the benefit of the public as a whole and for all sectors of its population, whatever their religion or ethnicity. These activities include strengthening peripheral communities, acting as custodian for national land and preserving its beauties, conserving the landscape and nature, improving the environment and raising the public’s level of ecological awareness for the sake of future generations. Since its foundation in 1901, KKL-JNF:
  • Planted more than 220 million trees
  • Maintains 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) of natural woodland
  • Redeemed 280,000 hectares (700,000) acres of land
  • Reclaimed 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of land for farming in 1000 rural communities.
  • Forged 7000 kilometers of roads & forest trails.
  • Prepared infrastructure for thousands of new homes.
  • Developed more than 600 recreation areas, many of them accessible to the disabled.
  • Built of 175 water reservoirs for water conservation and recycling.
  • Rehabilitates rivers and other water sources.
  • Restores archeological and historical sites.
  • Educates hundreds of thousands of young people in Israel and worldwide.
  • Supports and implemented research and development projects with global implications.
  • Promotes love of Israel and its environment, creating an enduring bond between people and the land.
  • Improves the environment throughout the country and fights climate change.
  • Combats desertification - pushing back the boundaries of the desert.

Your Opinion is Important to us

Many people, who have contacted us, support KKL-JNF right to maintain land in the State of Israel for the benefit of the Jewish people. Want to express your opinion? Please contact us. KKL-JNF reserves the right to publish your opinion. If you do not want your opinion made public, please make this clear when you contact us.