Residents of Kfar Azar, a cooperative agricultural community in central Israel founded in 1932, have petitioned the Tel Aviv district court against Israel Land Administration and the Jewish National Fund.
The legal move aims to stymie the Administration's attempts to evict them from the community's land by means of an evacuation order.
After negotiations between the parties hit an impasse, the residents filed a petition in which they claim that "in recent years, the JNF has systematically abandoned its Zionistic values and is becoming a body driven by 'business' motivations and preferring to deal in the land it owns out of greed."
The bone of contention is a 74 acre plot of agricultural land which has been rezoned from an agricultural designating to a residential, commercial and industrial designation. Although JNF is registered as the owner of the land, Kfar Azar residents claim that the 250 acres making up the community's territory was purchased in equal shares by the JNF and the residents' parents, who founded Kfar Azar.
The residents claim that a pioneering Zionistic-socialist ideology motivated them to register the land in the name of JNF, viewing the organization as "an eternal trustee." The plaintiffs also claim that this was the prevalent ideology underpinning the model of land acquisition in pre-state Israel during the British mandate.
Now, Kfar Azar residents are demanding the annulment of the evacuation order, or alternately, a higher compensation based not on the land's former agricultural designation.
The original leases were signed in December 1935 between community founders and the JNF. After their expiration in 1985, they were periodically renewed for shorter periods, at which point JNF began "a process of stripping the residents of their rights," the residents claim.
"From proud leasers, we've become trespassers," the residents say in the claim.
JNF was unavailable for comment.
Story first published by Calcalist