Knesset passes law to block foreign land purchases

The Knesset approved into law Tuesday a bill that will limit the ability of foreign nationals to purchase or transfer ownership of land that was formerly held by the Israel Lands Authority. In a vote of 11-1, with only newly returned MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) opposing the bill, the law easily passed in a near-empty Knesset plenum, enjoying support from both coalition and opposition parties.
The bill was initiated by Nachman Shai (Kadima), together with Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) and Yariv Levin (Likud) after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sought to advance his reform of the ILA, including making thousands of dunams of formerly state-held land available for sale. The bill’s sponsors said that they were concerned that this “massive privatization of hundreds of thousands of dunams of Israel’s land” could allow the land to be bought up by foreign interests.