Why the JNF?
Role in Building and Supporting Illegal Settlements:
JNF UK has funded a number of organisations and projects which have supported Israel’s illegal settlement project in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, JNF UK has supported the displacement of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Naqab.
JNF UK has provided funds for the OR Movement, as stated in its 2016 Annual Accounts (section 13: restricted funds). The OR movement supported the construction of the Jewish only town of Hiran, which aims to replace the Palestinian Bedouin village of Umm-al-Hiran. The Palestinians of that village are now subject to forcible evacuation. In addition, friends of JNF UK supported the planting of the Hiran Forest), which has been used to displace Palestinians and demolish the village Umm-al-Hiran. Such demolitions are against international law, and the United Nations has stated on numerous occasions that Bedouin Palestinians must be allowed to remain on their land.
JNF UK has supported the illegal Jewish-only settlement of Sansana, a religious community linked to the OR movement. Sansana is situated in the occupied West Bank, to the south-west of Hebron. Every Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian territory is illegal and considered a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In addition, JNF UK list ‘Hashomer HaChadash’ as one of the Israeli projects they provide support to. They state that the organisation works to “ensure a stronger Jewish presence, inspire a sense of mutual responsibility among the Jewish people.” The group’s activity has included illegally entering land belonging to a Palestinian family in the South Hebron hills, in the West Bank. The Hushiya family have faced regular settler and army intimidation and harassment, including the shooting of members of the family.
The activity of JNF UK fits with the history of its (nominally independent) parent KKL-JNF in Israel. Since its foundation in 1901, the Jewish National Fund has served as an agent of colonization, assisting the confiscation of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population. Its explicit mandate in controlling this land is to develop and lease it only to Jews, and not to the Palestinian population.
This role continues today in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Last year, it was revealed that over a two year period the organization secretly spent tens of millions of shekels in purchases of 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 right-wing settler group Elad have long cooperated to force Palestinian families from their homes in Silwan.
The case of Silwan is not isolated, Israeli human rights organisation ‘Peace Now’ argues “In recent years we see that KKL-JNF raised significantly its involvement in the settlement activity, allocating millions of shekels to the settlements and allowing the settlers use KKL-JNF to promote their agenda to take over Palestinian properties and to expand the settlements.”