Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Should charitable status be removed for land grabbers?

 Should an international organisation that stands accused of colonising land be allowed to retain its UK charitable status? Not according to the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. It now owns 13% of the total land of Israel. Two years ago, an early day motion signed by 66 MPS criticised the JNF for what it called ‘its ongoing illegal expropriation of Palestinian land, concealing of destroyed Palestinian villages beneath parks and forests...consequently there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s UK charitable status.’

Last year a report – Environmental Nakba – based on a visit to the West Bank by Friends of the Earth highlighted many examples of land expropriation by the JNF in the West Bank involving the destruction of trees and the polluting of agricultural land and surface water. Confiscation of land is undertaken using a law from the Ottoman period that permits the state to expropriate land that is not in use – evidence for which is guaranteed by military exclusion, vandalism and intimidation of settlers, many of who have family links dating back hundreds of years. With over one-third of the income of the West Bank coming from agriculture the continued expansion of settlements is crippling the Palestinian economy and impoverishing Palestinians.

In June, the PSC organised a speaking tour by one of the report’s authors, Eurig Scandrett, a sociology lecturer at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, and the organisation is stepping up its campaign for peace and justice for Palestinians.

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