Daily Israel Report

Jew Offers to Buy Nof Zion

Another offer to buy Nof Zion, this time by a Jew, may mean an Arab takeover of the religious-Zionist Jerusalem neighborhood has been averted.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/27/2010, 5:21 PM / Last Update: 12/27/2010, 5:24 PM

Haggai Huberman

The threatened Arab takeover of a Jewish neighborhood along the seam-line in Jerusalem may have been averted. The Digal Investments and Holdings company informed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that it received, on Sunday, another proposal to buy all its land holdings in the Nof Zion project in Jerusalem, as well as other holdings.

The identity of the buyer is not known, other than that he is Jewish – as opposed to the man whose offer has been under consideration until now, Arab-American Bashar Al-Masri.

The offer, if it goes through, will help Digal pay off its debts to Bank Leumi – and Digal has said that it will then be able to raise the money for its approximately 50 million shekels’ worth of debts to its bondholders.

Reactions
The proposal has led to the suspension of one effort to raise money among Jewish interests to save the religious-Zionist neighborhood – and redoubled efforts in another direction. A company called Be’Emunah [With Faith], has been raising money to buy the Nof Zion properties, but announced that in light of the news, it is “freezing” its campaign.

Aryeh King, on the other hand, who is involved in a parallel effort to raise money to buy Digal’s Nof Zion bonds, told Israel National News, “Tomorrow is the bondholders’ meeting at which they will vote on which proposal to accept. Both proposals are equal, and we have no guarantee that the Jewish offer will be accepted. If we had another few million shekels, we could sway the vote. I call upon everyone to place an order with their bank to buy this bond, in the coming hours.” King’s website, IsraelLandFund.com, provides more information.

The project was billed over the past few years as a “religious Zionist” neighborhood in a strategic spot, in terms of both Jewish-Arab demographics and a panoramic view of the Temple Mount and the Old City.

Globes reported that if Bank Leumi forces the sale of the Nof Zion project to Al-Masri, it faces a possible widespread boycott in the United States. Several apartment owners in the project have written to Bank Leumi as follows: “I have been involved in this project ever since it was presented to the public some eight years ago, and I am in contact with many of its American investors. These people have power and are very influential in their communities. We were under the impression that Bank Leumi would never work against the People of Israel - but we are now quickly concluding that this is not true. It appears that Bank Leumi is taking part in an act of treachery in allowing secret deals that will lead to the sale of Nof Zion properties to Arab interests.”

On the Thickness of the Pencil Mark
One of the first residents of the neighborhood, Moti Mintzer, said, “We are located right on the thickness of the pencil mark, in no-man’s land.” He was referring to the lines drawn in 1948 on a map of Jerusalem by the respective commanders of the Israeli and Jordanian forces at a ceasefire meeting during the War of Independence, showing where their forces were stationed. These lines, which were not contiguous in some places, became the de-facto borders of the city of Jerusalem for the ensuing 19 years, until Israel liberated the entire city in the Six Day War.