‘State gave KKL 5,100 hectares without approval’

Comptroller says value of land, transferred between ’91-’92, could be in the billions.

March 22, 2017 04:05
1 minute read.
A view of Upper Galilee from Mount Hillel with Mount Hermon in the background

A view of Upper Galilee from Mount Hillel with Mount Hermon in the background. (photo credit: MINISTRY OF TOURISM)

To pay off debt, the state gave the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund (KKL) around 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of land in the Galilee between September 1991 and April 1992, but it did so without necessary Knesset approvals or oversight, according to the State Comptroller’s report released on Tuesday.

As of August 2014, the KKL said that the state still owed it NIS 10.5 billion from funds it laid out for development of land as part of a 1961 agreement in which the KKL develops land and the state reimburses it for its expenses, the report said.

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira noted in his report that the state does not know the value of the land that was transferred to the KKL between 1991-1992, but that its value could be in the billions.

Additionally, neither the Knesset Finance Committee nor any other oversight body approved or reviewed the land transfers, the report read.

“The state does not know if it owes money to KKL...or if KKL owes the state money in light of the value of the land it has received from the state,” Shapira wrote in the report.

The report was the final chapter of an earlier report on the issue from January 18. The chapter’s release was delayed because of an objection to it by KKL. The Knesset decided to declassify the chapter on March 14.

Neither the comptroller nor KKL explained the reason for the classification debate, but various Hebrew media outlets speculated that it might be related to potential criminal wrongdoing and fraud that could hurt the KKL label, or to covering up an allegedly questionable broad process by which Israeli-Arab lands were purchased to transfer them to Jewish ownership.

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