On Sunday, a proposal by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to place the Jewish National Fund under the supervision of the State Comptroller's Office was defeated in the Ministerial Law Committee, with a majority of government ministers voting against the bill. But on Monday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein effectively reversed that decision, declaring that he was ordering the JNF to be place under the supervision of his own office.
The change was effected when Weinstein, with the stroke of a pen, changed the status of the JNF from a private corporation to one that “is concerned with the welfare of the public.” With that status, the organization now must meet criteria for such companies set by the Attorney General's office.
The idea to change the JNF's status came from a study conducted by Weinstein's deputy, Avi Licht. Last Thursday, Weinstein wrote to JNF and informed them of his intention to change the organization's status. The change will not come into effect for two months in order to enable the JNF to prepare to comply with the decision, Weinstein said.
Livni has been keen to place the JNF under government supervision response to alleged “racism” by the JNF, which has been accused of giving priority to developing land for Jewish towns over Arab towns, especially in the Galilee and the Negev. JNF officials were opposed to the law, fearing it would jeopardize the organization's tax-exempt status abroad. Currently the JNF is considered a non-government organization, but if it is responsible to the government, it could lose that status in several countries, officials said.
Livni, expressing satisfaction at the move, said that “those who did not want to see the JNF under the State Comptroller's supervision will now have it under the Attorney General's supervision.”