Photo Credit: Joshua Hennig, Kibbutz Gan Shmuel Archive, via Pikiwiki
Tu B'Shvat ceremony in Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, circa 1941

It appears there exists an inherent discrimination in the way the JNF has to distribute plants for the traditional Tu B’Shvat planting in Judea and Samaria, Hakol Hayehudi reported Tuesday, noting that the culprit in this unfair treatment of the children of Israeli settlers is the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

Everywhere else in Israel, all one needs to do in order to receive some of the thousands of plantlets JNF prepares for the Israeli New Year for the Trees tradition is fill up a short form informing the agency of which institution they represent, a short description of their planned activity, the location, a statement that a watering system is in place for the future trees, and a commitment to care for the plants in the coming years. That’s all. Shortly thereafter, the request is approved and one is invited to drop by the nearest JNF outlet and pick up a bunch of green seedlings.

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But not if one lives in Judea and Samaria, where if you decided to organize a planting ceremony on Tu B’Shvat, you must first get permission from COGAT – a month in advance. Which means that if, say, on the first of Shvat you came up with the idea of doing a planting ceremony for the kids in your school – too bad, should have thought about it two weeks earlier.

“I would like to bring to your attention that the communities in Judea and Samaria that wish to plant for Tu B’shvat must receive approval in writing by the Agricultural Staff Officer in the Civil Administration,” states the JNF application for seedlings.

“In addition, you must attach an aerial photograph or a map for each locality with an exact marking of the location of the planting,” the application form ads.

JNF is not authorized to operate in Judea and Samaria, which is why it must follow the IDF civil government’s rules.

MK Bezalel Somotritz (Habayit Hayehudi), chairman of the Knesset Eretz Israel lobby, told Hakol Hayehudi that he intends to approach JNF on this matter.

“On the face of it, this is an inappropriate discrimination,” Smotrich said, adding, “I intend to appeal to JNF immediately and ask for an amendment. I am confident that the JNF will respond to my request and remove this discrimination.”

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