“The decision to register Kfar Etzion’s land under the umbrella of the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (KKL) organization… creates a new reality for a community in the heart of Gush Etzion, which will now be able to expand without limitations,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Wednesday ahead of a conference at the kibbutz in Gush Etzion marking the end of a 17-year legal battle to block the registration.
“Israel must not hesitate to tell international groups like UNESCO that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, despite supposed “competing narratives,” Shaked said. “With the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel in modern times – finally, we have gotten here, and we are here to stay.”
The conference follows a report Tuesday that Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (KKL), the local affiliate of the international Jewish National Fund (JNF) had completed registration for 700 dunams of land in Gush Etzion.
The land was purchased by KKL from residents of Beit Ummar, a Palestinian Authority village located several kilometers south of Kfar Etzion, prior to Israel’s declaration of independence.
But the organization failed to complete the registration process before the War of Independence, and before the slaughter of Kfar Etzion residents by Jordanian soldiers in 1948.
A spokesperson for the Civil Administration blasted Palestinian Authority citizens who challenged the move, calling their claims “incoherent” and unsupported by corroborating evidence.
“From the moment they submitted their appeal they failed to submit supporting documents or surveyors’ maps. Later, they failed to comply with a demand for documentation or maps,” the spokesperson told the Hebrew-language NRG website.
In practical terms, the registration means that Kfar Etzion residents will not need authorization from the Defense Minister in order to build on the land. Daniel Atar, CEO of KKL, said that although the registration is an important landmark, he added that there is an ongoing need for collaboration on the ground in order to develop the land.
“I have issued clear instructions to my staff: We need collaborative efforts in order to translate this important document into a development program, so members of this kibbutz can build, so that other residents of the area can build.
“(I call on) the Justice Ministry to act so we can implement this right and maximize our ability to give expression to our title on the land,” Atar said.