Despite Denials, JNF Continues Efforts to Evict Jerusalem Palestinians

Despite Denials, JNF Continues Efforts to Evict Jerusalem Palestinians

A recent comment by the Jewish National Fund makes it clear that previous statements by its US office were lies.

The Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), an esteemed institution in Zionist history, finds itself embroiled in controversy over the eviction of an East Jerusalem family from their home. Initially denying any involvement, the JNF has now reversed its stance and is threatening legal action against the Sumarin family, demanding their immediate departure from their home in Silwan.

For the past two decades, Silwan, the largest Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem, has been targeted by Jewish settlers seeking to colonize the area. While many people know the JNF for its tree-planting campaigns and its claim of planting 240 million trees in Israel, its primary function is to maintain state land exclusively for Jewish use. Currently, the JNF controls 13 percent of the land in Israel and only offers its land to Jewish individuals.

Surprisingly, it has been revealed that the JNF actively participates in evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. In this particular case, the saga began in the 1980s when the original owner of the Sumarin home, Musa Sumarin, passed away. Despite the family members living in the house being recognized as Musa’s heirs, Israel disregarded their claims and handed control of the property to the Custodian of Absentee Properties. This practice is common in the ongoing campaign to uproot Palestinians from their homes.

The Custodian of Absentee Properties then transferred the property, along with others in Silwan, to Himnuta, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the JNF. Himnuta, in collaboration with the settler organization Elad, launched legal proceedings to evict the Sumarin family from their home.

Following the exposure of this story by Haaretz, various organizations rallied together to stop the eviction. Rabbis for Human Rights, Solidarity, and Yachad organized a campaign urging activists to write letters to JNF officials, pleading for the Sumarin family’s right to continue living in their house.

Concerned about their tarnished reputation, the JNF’s American office posted a sarcastic message on their site, denying any involvement in the affair. However, legal documents revealed that the JNF was indeed part of the legal proceedings against the Sumarin family. In fact, it was the JNF-owned Himnuta that signed the warrant for their eviction, with no mention of Elad in the documents.

Interestingly, in a comment on Haaretz, the JNF no longer denies its involvement in the affair. Instead, they stated that “in 2006, after a legal battle, the court determined that the Sumarin family should evacuate the property in Silwan. The family has refused to comply with the court’s order and rejected attempts at dialogue to resolve the case. Out of the company’s (JNF) responsibility and sensitivity, it was decided not to carry out the eviction at this time. However, if dialogue fails, the company will turn to the legal authorities to enforce the verdict.”

This statement reveals two critical points: (a) JNF America lied in its previous public announcement, and (b) JNF Israel openly admits that if the Sumarin family does not voluntarily leave, they will be forcefully evicted in the near future.

These revelations dismantle the narrative of excavations and leasing that the JNF tried to present. It is clear that the JNF is actively working to remove Palestinians from their homes and replace them with Elad’s settlers.

UPDATE: The eviction of the Sumarin family has been temporarily halted by the Jerusalem court, giving the JNF an opportunity to reconsider their position. Will they take this chance to reassess their actions?

Read more about this story and the JNF’s involvement in displacing Palestinians from their homes and lands: Tips Tree Planting

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