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Israel: Jewish National Fund set to approve plan that could lead to Palestinian expulsions

Proposal could lead to Palestinians facing legal battles similar to East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah and Beit Hanina neighbourhoods
Palestinian protesters gather during a demonstration against the Israeli settlers' wildcat outpost of Eviatar, in the town of Beita, near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus (AFP)

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is set to approve plans that could lead to the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

The organisation will meet on Thursday to discuss the controversial plan to review 17,000 properties tied to the fund.

Many of the properties are inhabited by Palestinians who the JNF officially regards as "squatters", according to Haaretz.

If approved, the move could lead to Palestinians fighting legal battles against expulsions from their homes, similar to those living in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah and Beit Hanina neighbourhoods. 

The plan will be worth $31m, take five years to implement and covers properties purchased by the fund before and after 1948.

But records of purchase for these properties are only found in the JNF's documentation and were never registered with the government.

Legitimisation of land grabs

Historically, the JNF has purchased property throughout the West Bank, including Areas A and B which are under partial Palestinian jurisdiction. 

The JNF said that its documentation indicates ties to at least 360 West Bank properties and can prove ownership of 170 homes listed in its portfolio.

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Most of the land was purchased after 1967 by JNF subsidiary Himnota, created after the war that year.

Earlier this year, the JNF approved a controversial plan that will allow it to buy Palestinian lands in the West Bank to expand illegal settlements. 

This plan allows the organisation to buy lands in the Palestinian district of Jenin and Nablus in the northern West Bank, an area surrounded by Israeli settlements.

The JNF is a non-profit organisation founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine for Jewish settlers.

The goal was part of the bigger plan named “land redemption”. Jews in Israel and worldwide have been encouraged to give to the project, often in the form of donations collected in the JNF’s famous blue boxes.