Report: Gulf Arabs Buying Up Private Land in Galilee

Israel Radio: Farmers are selling land to Arab buyers from countries that have no ties with Israel.

Wealthy Arab investors from Persian Gulf states have bankrolled the purchase of hundreds of dunams of privately-owned agricultural land in the Galilee, according to Israel Radio.

Agrarian non-government groups banded together in a bid to halt the sale of land to Arab buyers, though they were unsuccessful in raising the necessary funds needed to buy the land from owners who were forced to sell the property due to economic hardship, Israel Radio reported.

An official with the Israel Land Administration told Israel Radio on Saturday that the governmental body which owns most of the country's land is legally powerless to intervene and halt the sale since the transactions involve privately-owned land.

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon told Israel Radio that the matter is not under his jurisdiction.

Meretz chief Haim Oron said the development is further proof that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intention to enact land reform which encompasses privatization of state-owned land is misguided.

If Netanyahu's reforms are adopted, farmers are liable to see their land fall into the hands of foreigners, Oron told Israel Radio.

Earlier this month, the Knesset passed a land reform bill that allows for privatization of state-owned lands.