JNF UK returns to the fold

Agreement links UK organization with KKL, ends two years of legal battles.

JNF KKL 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
JNF KKL 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Jewish National Fund UK will soon return to the fold of the international Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL) system following an agreement reached between the two organizations last week that will end two years of legal battles and bickering over funds. The agreement will require more time to finalize its details, but the linking of the two organizations has already begun with the appointment of KKL Charitable Trust chairman Samuel Hayek to the newly formed parallel position of JNF UK chairman. The same man will now chair both the original JNF UK and the rival organization founded by Israel-based KKL to compete with it. While current JNF UK president Gail Seal will remain in a leadership fund-raising capacity at the organization, JNF UK will also see new trustees added to it, and will be empowered to mediate the remaining issues involved in reintegrating JNF UK into the worldwide KKL structure. According to sources familiar with the agreement, both JNF UK and KKL have racked up some £2 million each in legal fees, a figure that would mushroom should pending legal suits resulting from the dispute - over land in Israel and even use of the "JNF" brand - go to court. This, along with the reported massive blow to JNF UK's fund-raising due to the very public fallout with KKL, has pushed the sides to the settlement. Both Hayek and Seal called the new agreement "positive" and said it would reenergize JNF UK. "There could not have been a more positive and peaceful resolution to this issue," said Seal. The groups split in 2005, each claiming the other had broken the collaboration agreement between them. The UK branch was accused of withholding funds it had raised for KKL, while the parent organization was accused of failing to direct the funds to projects in accordance with the agreement.