Haaretz Exposé / State Gave East Jerusalem Lands to Rightist Groups Without Tenders

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Israel Lands Administration is transferring properties in the Silwan neighborhood and the Old City of Jerusalem to right-wing groups Elad and Ateret Cohanim for low prices, without issuing a tender as required by law, a Haaretz investigation has found.

The state and the groups involved concealed the transactions and refused to give any information about them.

Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem.Credit: Michal Fattal

At the end of a lengthy legal struggle conducted by left-wing activist Dror Etkes, the court decided to have the ILA release only part of the information, to prevent the properties' identification.

Haaretz has located three of the properties the ILA reported on at the court's instruction.

The inquiry shows the ILA's list does not include dozens of properties, perhaps because they were handed over to other related organizations or subsidiaries, some of which are registered abroad.

Some of them may be tax shelters.

Haaretz has exposed transcripts of conversations held by controversial Elad leader David Beeri with then-Public Security Minister Avi Dichter during a visit to some of the properties in 2008.

The transcripts illustrate that even if the acts were carried out by law, as the organizations keep saying, their end - increasing the Jewish population of East Jerusalem - sometimes justified unconventional means.

Elad commented that it is acting to buy properties but everything it does is legal, transparent and honest.

The ILA said it had passed on all the required information. Ateret Cohanim chose not to comment.

The full story will appear in Sunday's edition of the Haaretz English print edition