When politics and business meet. A company building Jewish homes in the Nof Zion neighborhood in east Jerusalem may be sold to a group of buyers headed by a Palestinian businessman, Ynet learned. It is feared that should the deal be carried out the company will stop building houses for Jewish residents.
Digal Investments and Holdings convened its bondholders Tuesday to authorize a bid to sell ownership of the company. It owes some NIS 130 million ($36.35 million) to banks, including Bank Leumi, and various bondholders and is therefore seeking a buyer.
The meeting was attended by bondholders and residents who harshly oppose the deal. During the heated debate some called the proposed investor, Bashar Masri, a terrorist and an enemy of Israel as he was once a member of Fatah. One of the bondholders opposing the deal claimed that it is a violation of the suppression of the financing of terrorism law.
The company's representatives said in the meeting that they chose one proposal out of four and were not aware that a Palestinian was behind the bid.
'Not just any piece of real estate'
Attorney Moti Minser, speaking on behalf of the Nor Zion neighborhood residents, said that the neighborhood is under heavy security despite the fact it was lawfully constructed and maintains good relations with its Arab neighbors. "We believe that changing the neighborhood's character and selling lands to a Palestinian will hurt it."
Attorney Miriam Friedberg, a resident of Nof Zion, said: "This is a test for Zionism as a whole, since should the proposal pass it would be the first time that Jewish land is sold to a Palestinian. I ask the company not to treat this land as any other piece of real estate that can be sold off the highest bidder."
Jerusalem-based right-wing groups handed out fliers Tuesday ahead of the meeting warning of the deal.
Right-wing protest outside meeting
The Nof Zion neighborhood is a new Jewish enclave inside Jabel Mukaber between Armon Hanatziv and Sur Baher. Roughly one third of the houses have already been built and sold to Jewish residents. The other two thirds have been approved and will be sold as soon as the company solves its financial problems.
However, heading the group of potential buyers, which is registered in Cyprus, is Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri of Ramallah – one of the richest men in the Middle East. The rest of the buyers are mostly Americans.
Interestingly enough Digal is indirectly linked to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Some 30% of its shares are owned by a company controlled by Barkat's brother Eli. Elements familiar with the issue claim the mayor has specifically avoided making statements on the matter due to his personal connection to it.
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report
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