J Street is appalled that the executive committee of the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael (JNF-KKL) has voted to formally allow the organization to purchase land in the West Bank for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements — a vote that will now go to the group’s full board for approval.
For Jews around the world who contributed through the JNF to the creation and building of the state of Israel, it is beyond upsetting that the organization is being turned into an arm of the West Bank settlement movement, acting in a way that violates international law, shows total disregard for the rights of Palestinians and dangerously undermines Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people along with the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. While JNF-KKL funds have a complex history of being used at times to help fund and facilitate land purchases and settlement growth beyond the Green Line in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they have not previously officially committed to this harmful project in such a brazen and explicit fashion.
The fact that JNF-KKL is pursuing this provocative step now shows particular disregard for the positions of the vast majority of American Jews and those of the Biden administration, which has made clear its strong support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its opposition to settlement expansion and annexation in the West Bank. It merits a strong, coordinated response from all Jewish and pro-Israel organizations who care about Palestinian rights, Israel’s future and basic legality.
JNF-USA, which raises millions of tax-deductible dollars from Americans to fund development projects in Israel inside the Green Line, is a legally separate entity from JNF-KKL. However, JNF-USA transfers large sums of money to their Israeli counterpart on a regular basis. It is therefore incumbent upon JNF-USA to oppose any investment by JNF-KKL in occupied Palestinian territory and to refuse to provide any further funding to JNF-KKL if this proposal is approved. If they are unwilling to do so, pro-Israel, pro-peace American Jews and Jewish institutions should strongly consider whether they can continue to in any way support or cooperate with the JNF in either its American or Israeli form.