Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Attorney-General’s Office requested on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appoint a minister to oversee the impending split between Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael- Jewish National Fund and the Israel Lands Authority.
In a letter to cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit, Deputy Attorney-General Dena Zilber recounted that KKL-JNF had previously announced it wouldn’t continue its contract with the ILA. According to the organizations’ agreement, the lands owned by KKL-JNF are managed by the ILA.
A minister must be quickly appointed to oversee an interministerial committee that will manage the split, as the arrangement between the two organizations expires in about six months’ time, and the change is set to have massive policy implications for the state and a variety of economic sectors, she said.
Zilber disqualified Construction Minister Uri Ariel from being the minister in charge, even though he had already taken actions to address and implement the split between the ILA and KKL-JNF.
According to Zilber, Ariel cannot oversee the transition as an organization run by his daughter has received significant KKL-JNF funds, which would leave him in a conflict of interest.
Ariel’s disqualification could potentially leave the issue in limbo, since the construction minister would have been the first logical choice to oversee the transition, Zilber said, making the appointment issue even more pressing.
Any committee and minister addressing the split would not be limited to logistical issues, she said, adding that the minister would need to take a broader outlook on the multifaceted ways that the split will impact the state in the long-term.
Responding to Zilber’s letter, the Construction Ministry said “there is nothing new in this, as this is how things have been handled until now. There is nothing that will harm the continued work of Minister Ariel as chairman of the Council for Israel Lands or as construction minister, just as it has been until now.”
Since its establishment in 1901, KKL-JNF has purchased and developed land in pre-state and modern Israel, and contributes to its infrastructure, forests and parks.