The Israel Land Fund is an Israel-based settler organization supporting the acquisition of buildings and land for Israel’s program of settler colonialism. It advertises housing opportunities as “ideology properties”, and provides legal assistance to settlers to displace Palestinians. The organization describes itself as founded in response to “the Danger” of “more and more Arabs and non-Jews living and owning land all over Israel.” The mission is therefore explicitly discriminatory, as the Israel Land Fund exists solely to prevent the sale of land to non-Jewish people.To directly quote the organization’s intention for its work: “House by house, lot by lot, the Israel Land Fund is ensuring the land of Israel stays in the hands of the Jewish people forever.”
The Israel Land Fund receives tax-deductible donations via the Central Fund of Israel, a US-based charity registered in New York. The Israel Land Fund facilitates the takeover of Palestinian property, paid for by investors, through its role as a landbroker. It markets buildings for sale, provides assistance in the process of buying apartments, and grants legal support to Israeli settlers. It is currently involved in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, but it regularly operates across all of Historic Palestine. Their process explicitly lays out how the Israel Land Fund urges participants to explicitly buy from Palestinian land and property owners.
- An initial meeting between the Israel Land Fund and the buyer or a representative of the buyer will take place. The Israel Land Fund requires a letter of recommendation from a familiar individual, organization or community known to the ILF or whom the ILF have dealt with in the past, either in Israel or abroad. This is required in order to prevent the sale of land to hostile elements.
- The buyers will be shown properties or land they may be interested in purchasing, without directly identifying the property. This is to prevent the possibility of over-exposure of the property which may result in the cancellation or withdrawal of the property by the seller or cause damage to the deal.
- The Fund will conduct negotiations on behalf of the buyers accordingly. It is only at this stage, once the ILF is convinced of the seriousness and authenticity of the buyers, that the ILF will reveal the seller and enable the buyer to visit the property.
- The buyer can choose to continue the negotiations with the seller alone or elect a member of the ILF to continue the transaction on his/her behalf until the signing and official registration of the transaction has taken place.
- The ILF is responsible for leasing the property or land for the buyer to local Jews and will act as a go-between between the new owners and the tenants or the Jewish farmers.
- A registered Israeli lawyer, in the field of general property law as well as an expert in leasing land from private Arabs, accompanies the ILF throughout the entire process. The buyer has the option of retaining the services of this lawyer, at a considerably lower fee than the standard rate of the average Israeli lawyer. The buyer also retains the possibility of conducting the process with his/her own lawyer. In this instance, a member of the ILF will oversee the acquisition, without legal representation from the ILF.
- At the end of the acquisition process and upon having the property listed in the name of the buyer with the Israel Lands Registry, the Fund will supply the certificate of acquisition together with a map of the property. This will accompany a copy of the Israel Land Registry Title document with the name of the new owner and a copy of the Israel Land Registry Title document with the name of the seller.
- One may also purchase land in the name of a family member (for example as a gift for a Brit Milah, Bat or Bar mitzvah or wedding). It is also possible to register the land in the name of a religious or educational institution, and in doing so, showing support of that particular institution, as well as purchasing property as a real estate investment.
The Israel Land Fund boasts a particularly well-known politician as its founder and former director, Aryeh King, the former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. King is a strong proponent of colonization in East Jerusalem. When asked by a journalist at the New York Times about whether or not forced evictions for the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah are part of a larger scheme related to demographic change in East Jerusalem — in simpler terms, the replacement of local Palestinian communities with Jewish individuals and families — King made it clear that “‘of course’ [the evictions] are part of a wider strategy of installing ‘layers of Jews’ throughout East Jerusalem.” In a moment at which he was feeling more forthright, King mocked a prominent Palestinian activist in Sheikh Jarrah that had previously been shot in the lower back that it was “a pity” the bullet “didn’t go in here” while pointing to his own forehead.
We are calling on the New York State Attorney General to immediately investigate and revoke the charitable licenses of the NY-based organizations funneling tax-free donations to the Israel Land Fund.