Tuesday, August 25, 2015
This is my second post as a guest author for the blog. In my precious post I discussed the struggle for and conflict over land in the Negev desert, between the Government of Israel (“GOI”) and the country’s numerous indigenous Bedouin tribal people. (See map below for the Negev’s location. Today I attempt to explain parts of the Israel Land Law of 1969 and other attributes of land provenance and ownership.
I would like to apologize for incorrectly referring to the 1969 land law, as the 1949 land law at the bottom of the third paragraph of the previous post. I request that accept my apologies for missing the correct date. Of course, I hope that the readers were not confused by my error.
Once again, I note that we must take a step into the past, back to 1901 to be exact. However, historical facts do not necessarily provide us with substantive answer. In that year, the Jewish National Fund (“JNF”) was established by the Fifth Jewish Congress meeting in Basel, Switzerland. It was created as a national fund for the purchase and management of in Ottoman controlled Palestine land in what is today Israel, a national fund to purchase land. The JNF has been doing exactly that ever since. Moreover, to its credit the JNF has planted numerous forests across Israel. Nevertheless, although it is an independent entity, its leaders march to the government’s tune. Thus JNF’s decisions are sometimes at odds with what land stewards and environmentalists feel is moral, legal and right.
As a result of the purchase and transfer of properties - by the JNF to the Government of Israel (“GOI”) - and land that Israel received pursuant to the terms of the U.K.’s withdrawal from its Palestine Mandate the GOI - via state or by quasi-state agencies - owns most of the land, 93%, (excluding the occupied areas of the West Bank and Gaza), within the borders of the State. Indeed, Article 1 of Israel’s Basic Law of 1960, prohibits the transfer of land from government agencies via sale or by other means. Article 1 defines “lands” to include “land, houses, buildings and anything permanently fixed to land.”
Accordingly, in order to provide housing stock, the government gave families and businesses a 49-year lease that is renewable upon request for building homes or for buying condominiums, the predominant form of home ownership in the country.