Last month, for the first time in its long history, the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) openly declared that it will fund land confiscation in the West Bank, in defiance of international law. Its board of governors voted through the allocation of NIS 38 million to take over land, previously confiscated by the Israeli state, to expand Jewish-only settlements yet further. All Israeli settlements, based on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, constitute a war crime under international law. Yet the British arm of KKL-JNF, JNF UK, continues to be a registered charity, enjoying tax exemption to raise funds for its parent organisation.
This decision is not an aberration, or a reversal of existing JNF policy, but a clear indication that the settlement expansion driven by Israel’s far right government and emboldened by the support it received from the Trump administration, is set to continue, more blatantly than previously.
Last year, it was revealed that over a two-year period JNF-KKL secretly acquired West Bank land earmarked for the expansion of illegal settlements, while its subsidiary Himnuta spearheaded fresh attempts to force Palestinians from their homes in annexed East Jerusalem. Himnuta and the right-wing settler group Elad have long cooperated to force Palestinian families to leave East Jerusalem. Their eviction has been condemned by a cross-party group of MPs, in signing EDM 529.
The KKL-JNF decision brings into the open what it has, for decades, been doing behind closed doors, or through a nexus of subsidiaries. In fact, KKL-JNF has been deeply complicit in the ongoing colonisation and settlement of Palestinian land, since its foundation in 1901. As Peace Now confirm, in the past decades KKL-JNF have acquired at least 65,000 dunams (16,000 acres) of land for settlements. The KKL-JNF has acted as a parastatal partner in the consequent forced displacement, occupation and apartheid policies of the state.
Here in Britain, JNF UK supports numerous KKL-JNF projects on both sides of the Green Line and is listed as KKL-JNF’s office in the UK. Much of JNF UK’s activities have been presented either as benign environmental projects or disguised through front organisations.
Once more, we call for the Charity Commission to remove JNF UK’s charity status, as a step towards holding UK businesses and organisations accountable for their complicity in Israeli violations of international law.