Charity Commission rejects claim against JNF

The Charity Commission has rejected a campaign group’s claim that the JNF should be stripped of its charitable status.

But the Commission will question JNF trustees on whether aspects of its work breach equality laws by dealing differently with Israelis and Palestinians.

After reviewing a complaint from Stop the JNF, the Commission concluded there were no grounds to remove the JNF, or a subsidiary group from its Israeli associate Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), from the charities register.

However it agreed that there were “matters of potential regulatory interest” which should be considered.

The Commission will ask trustees to explain “operational and administrative issues” relating to restrictions on services available “to people defined by a protected characteristic”. It is thought the questions will refer to how JNF’s work affects Palestinians.

Stop the JNF had complained that JNF should not have been granted charitable status in Britain, had been set up for “improper use”, and had been involved in “violations of human rights and international law”. The Commission said Stop the JNF had provided no evidence to back up those claims.

Stop the JNF had accused the charity of being “complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” and claimed the JNF’s “primary purpose” was to “remove Palestinians from their land and replace them with Jewish-only settlements”. More than 500 Stop the JNF supporters wrote to the Commission.

Stop the JNF’s Sofiah Macleod accused the Commission of “a wilful blindness”.The campaign group would take legal action to “force the Charity Commission to do its job”.

JNF spokesman Ari Soffer said: “As the Commission’s response clearly states, there were absolutely no grounds for the application. Any claims that JNF UK somehow discriminates in its operations are dispelled by even a curory glance at the work we do.”

Last updated: 4:45pm, May 23 2013