JNF in US, Israel end feud with agreement

'Post' learns that according to deal, third company will own brand in perpetuity, leasing it to American branch.

An ongoing feud between the Israeli and American branches of the Jewish National Fund which threatened the 107-year-old organization's future has ended, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The feud had pitted the Israeli Keren Kayemet LeIsrael against the Jewish National Fund in the United States, which raises funds for KKL in the largest Diaspora community, in a bitter dispute over ownership of the "KKL" brand. The American branch had registered it under its name in the United States, while the Israeli organization sought to keep the brand for itself. The feud even led to legal action from KKL toward the American organization and board members. The fight ended formally on November 5 as KKL's board unanimously approved an agreement according to which a third company, tentatively named "NewCo," would own the brand in perpetuity, leasing it to the American branch. The agreement also calls for the two branches to work as one, and guarantees that JNF-raised funds will be distributed in Israel solely through KKL, according to KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler. Ownership of the new company will be split evenly between KKL and JNF, with the former appointing its president and secretary, and the latter its vice president and treasurer. There is also to be a 10-member board divided between the two branches. NewCo will be forbidden from conducting any activity other than ownership of the brand, which is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars in annual fundraising in the United States. "The situation of both organizations will improve with the end of the fighting," said Stenzler. "Both sides understand the issue and want this years-long battle to end." Speaking to the Post on Monday, Stenzler said the current feud between KKL and JNF-UK was also nearing conclusion. There, the sides disagreed over ownership of the trademark and the right of the UK branch to choose the projects in Israel to which its funds would go. The agreement has yet to be finalized, but will likely center on a lease of the trademark to the UK branch and a joint mechanism for choosing projects and transferring funds to them, he said.