Nof Zion 521.
(photo credit: Seth J. Frantzman)
A threatened boycott of Bank Leumi by settlers was called off on Tuesday after
the bank accepted a new financing offer from supermarket mogul Rami Levy for the
struggling Nof Zion complex in east Jerusalem.
Nof Zion faces upheaval after bank rejects debt repayment
Nof Zion residents express relief over Rami Levy takeover
For the past few months,
residents of the Jewish complex in the Jebl Mukaber neighborhood have fought
against a business takeover by Palestinian- American businessman Basher
Al-Masri, who has said he wants to sell the 300 apartments yet to be built to
Digal Investments, whose primary project is Nof Zion, is
more than NIS 100 million in debt, of which at least NIS 80 million is to Bank
Masri, the businessman behind the planned Palestinian city of
Rawabi, had made the highest offer to bail out the company, but in January the
bondholders rejected it in favor of a significantly lower offer from Rami Levy
and his Australian Jewish partner, Kevin Bermeister, the inventor of Kazaa music
On Sunday, Bank Leumi informed Digal that their debt repayment
plan was not sufficient and it would take the company to court if Digal didn’t
find a higher bid that would enable them to repay more of the debt. This opened
the door for Masri to resubmit his offer for the company’s debt.
response, Nof Zion residents, assisted by the Israel Land Fund’s Aryeh King,
began to organize protests outside of Bank Leumi branches and threatened that
all of the settlers in the West Bank and east Jerusalem would withdraw their
funds from Bank Leumi.
Late on Monday, Bank Leumi announced that it had
accepted a higher offer from Levy and Bermeister and was no longer considering
“Now everything is an oral agreement, only when it’s done
and signed will it be finished,” said King. “It’s not over till it’s over, as
they say. We’re waiting until the negotiations are finished.”
Shai Cooperman, who bought a small number of bonds in Digal Investments in order
to attend the bondholders’ meetings, as did dozens of other residents, expressed
relief that the latest upheaval was over.
“We really hope this time there
won’t be other crises and they’ll sign the contract,” he said on Tuesday. “We’re
just residents, we didn’t know much about bonds and about companies. We just got
into this situation that no one thought it would come to.”
Investments declined to comment. A Bank Leumi spokesman said they do not discuss
specific cases to protect their clients’ confidentiality.