World Zionist Organization Uses Israeli Taxpayer Money to Fund Illegal Settlement Home

The organization's Settlement Division provided a mortgage loan for Gilad Ach, who heads a group deploying undercover agents among left-wing NGOs

The home of Gilad Ach, in the West Bank settlement of Eli, January 30, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

The World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division used public funds to provide a mortgage financing for a home in the West Bank settlement of Eli.

Construction in this settlement is illegal under Israeli law since a master plan for it was never approved. The entire settlement is therefore illegal and none of its houses have permits.

The mortgage in question is for a home belonging to Gilad Ach, who heads the Ad Kan nongovernmental organization, which employs undercover agents tasked with infiltrating left-wing organizations and documenting their operations from the inside.

The Settlement Division is a private body that acts under the World Zionist Organization, but is wholly financed by Israeli public funds. It acts as a government agent in assigning land to Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

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Efforts to retroactively approve a master plan for Eli have been stalled for years by the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank. Ach's home was built without a permit on land that belongs to the state, but in the absence of a master plan, no such permit could have been issued. Some other houses in the settlement were built on private Palestinian land.

Mortgage registry records show that the Settlement Division, which is wholly funded with taxpayer funds, provided the mortgage loan to Ach and his wife in 2010.

This is not the first case in which the division has provided funds for use in settlements or unauthorized West Bank outposts in violation of the law. In October, Haaretz disclosed that since the 1990s, the Settlement Division provided financial assistance to establish a large number of outposts throughout the West Bank. In December, Haaretz also reported that the division loaned funds in the West Bank settlement of Itamar secured by mortgages on unassigned plots.

Kerem Navot, a group working to prevent the dispossession of Palestinian West Bank land, located the mortgage of the Ach family home in the mortgage registry.

The organization commented wryly: "As is known, Gilad Ach works energetically to promote law enforcement and transparency, and therefore we are certain that he would be pleased to know that in the settlement of Eli, where he lives, the Settlement Division is granting mortgages for the purchase of homes in violation of the law. We are convinced that Ach and his organization, Ad Kan, will act diligently to eliminate this serious phenomenon as they have done in other instances in the past in which there has been suspected violation of the law."

Ad Kan denied the allegations in a statement, calling them "yet another spin that is part of the Haaretz newspaper's persecution of Gilad Ach for ideological motives."

The World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division declined to comment.