The U.S. Reform movement criticizes KKL-JNF’s plan to buy West Bank land for settlements

America’s largest Jewish movement, the Union for Reformed Judaism, submitted a proposal measured by the Jewish National Fund to officially allow the purchase of land in the West Bank in the nearby cities of Israel.

The plan, a slate to come before the Jewish National Fund Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) executive committee for a vote on Sunday, would allow him to buy private Palestinian land in West Bank District C. Area C is made up of parts of the West Bank that are under Israeli control.

If adopted, the change would signal a major policy shift for the centennial group.

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The plan also allows other projects to develop West Bank settlements, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in spending.

In a statement against the proposal, the Union for Reformed Judaism said “politics supports respected Zionist institutions serving the cause of Zionism and Jewish unity.

“We love and support the Jewish and democratic state of Israel and that is why we continue to oppose policies that undermine the safety, security and moral character of our Jewish country,” the head of the group’s president, Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

“Agreed at this time when Israel is looking to build a strong relationship with the Biden administration this unilateral move could be contagious and harmful,” he said.

When asked to comment on the proposal at a press conference earlier in the week, U.S. Department of State Spokeswoman Ned Price read out a statement that administration officials have reported several times when asked them about such matters.

Photo: Construction in the vicinity of Dagan of Efrat settlement, West Bank on 22 July 2019. (Gershon Elinson / Flash90)

“It is essential to avoid one-sided measures that reduce tension and divert efforts to achieve a two-state solution. This includes additions, settlement building, demolition, incentives and payments for terrorists, ”said Price.

To date KKL (a separate agency from JNF-USA) has not officially worked in the West Bank and has been working through other organizations there on some limited projects.

The group’s new global chairman, Avraham Duvdevani, took over in the fall of 2020 and is working to change the policy. Duvdevani is part of the growing influence on Zionist groups like KKL. The move came in response to a push from pro-settlement lobbyists and the group tried to keep it low, a report said Thursday in a Walla news site.

Foreign donations will only be used to fund such activity if the transactions are in the donor country, the report, which was also conducted in English on the Axios news site, said.

In response to the report, KKL, referring to the West Bank with its biblical names, said, “Over the years we have been working everywhere in Israel including Judea and Samaria. The meeting on Sunday intends to adopt policy principles based on legal opinion we have received. At this stage we have no plans to establish a new development area in Judea and Samaria. “

KKL’s expansion of activities into the West Bank could further complicate Israel’s ties with U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, which is expected to restore America’s traditional stance against settlements . It could also affect the Jewish state’s ties with the rest of the international community, which sees the settlements as illegal.

KKL, founded in 1901 to buy and develop land for Jewish settlement and best known for the hundreds of millions of trees he planted throughout Israel, serves as the custodian of the Jewish people for about 15 percent of the land in the country, and their management is done by the Israel Land Authority.

A type of NGO officially registered as a public benefit company, KKL operates in the fields of forestry, water, education, community development, tourism, and research and development. Its parent body is the World Zionist Group.

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