The dispute revolves around the ownership of a residential building known as Beit Bakri in Hebron, which was confiscated from its Palestinian owners by groups of settlers in the city in the early 2000s.
An Israeli court ruled in 2019 that the settlers would evacuate the building and paid substantial fees to the Palestinian owners, but ongoing legal disputes and the controversial KKL purchase of the building shortly before the ruling have complicated this process.
One of the settler organizations involved in the Beit Bakri seizure has now requested that KKL provide funds for its legal needs in the case, something that has created deep political controversy within the organization.
The centrist and left-wing representatives in KKL strongly oppose the request to the Board of Directors to provide funding for the legal needs of a settler organization involved in the illegal confiscation of property, saying that doing so would politicize KKL on an issue, control of Israel. of the West Bank and Hebron specifically, which is hotly contested within Israel and the global Jewish community.
Right-wing factions in KKL insist, however, that the organization is simply protecting its own assets and that the organization has historically been involved in buying land in the West Bank anyway.
The controversy began in 2001, when the Palestinian owners of the Beit Bakri multi-story residential building in the city’s Tel Rumeida district, near the Jewish neighborhoods, were forced to leave due to restrictions imposed by the security forces of Israel to Palestinian residents at the time, during the Second Intifada, and for what they said was harassment by Jewish residents of the building’s owners.
Settler groups took control of the building after this development and eventually engaged in a fraudulent purchase of the property, but which was later overturned by a 2019 Jerusalem Magistrates Court ruling that ordered the settlers to evacuate the property and pay more to Palestinian owners. over NIS 600,000 in usage fees and legal costs.
In July this year, the Jerusalem Court of First Instance granted this stay, but required the person living on the ground floor owned by KKL to pay NIS 180,000 as a guarantee that he would respect its final decision.
The Association for the Renewal of the Jewish Community of Hebron, which has been involved in claiming the rights to Beit Bakri, subsequently submitted a request to the KKL for the organization to pay the guarantee.
In September, the KKL executive denied the request by six votes to five, but it was resubmitted in October and was narrowly approved thanks to the current double-voting privilege of KKL President Avraham Duvdevani.
That decision has now been appealed by center-left representatives of the KKL to the board of directors, however, and the issue is scheduled for a vote on Thursday.
Meanwhile, KKL has already paid almost NIS 110,000 for the guarantee, with another NIS 72,000 pending.
Gadi Perl, a member of the KKL board of directors for Masorti Olami, says that allowing the guarantee payment would deeply politicize KKL on an issue that is far from consensus within Israel and the Jewish diaspora, both of whom are supposed to act. the KKL. to name.
“Regardless of political opinions, there is no question that the house should not have been bought in the first place,” Perl said.
“Paying the guarantee now would be a de facto stamp of approval both for the illegal occupation of Beit Bakri and later for the contentious purchase of this property,” he continued, adding that this would be “unfair to the Palestinian owners and unfair to the citizens.” . Jewish people represented in KKL “.
Perl argued that the Association for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron has the resources to pay the guarantee itself; that settler groups were involved in legal proceedings before KKL bought the property; and that KKL should never have bought the property in the first place.
“I’m trying to stop KKL [from] going political, but people who want to invest money in these goals are forcing him to become that and ruining his consensus status within the Jewish people, “Perl said.
David Etzioni, a member of the KKL executive of the Likud party who submitted the request to pay the guarantee to management, said the problem was simply that KKL as an organization had a responsibility to protect its own assets and rejected the notion that paying the guarantee La guarantee was a political step.
Etzioni said that KKL would act the same with regard to any other assets it owned elsewhere and that the only reason they were opposed was that the property in question is in Hebron, a highly contested and contentious city.
“They are introducing politics into KKL. The first responsibility of a company is to protect itself and its assets, ”Etzioni said, insisting that KKL bought land in Judea and Samaria in the past and that it should continue to do so.
There are currently 17 right-wing members on the Board of Directors and 15 centrists, progressive Jews, and left-wing members, along with five representatives from Zionist organizations, including Hadassah, Wizo, Bnei Brit, Naamat, and Maccabi.
The center and left factions hope that these organizations will speak out on the issue and prevent the approval of the guarantee payment.