In the 1990s, the Amana settlement organization received from the state land expropriated from Palestinians in questionable ways in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. This was done without a tender, and for a one-time payment of NIS 913,000. Amana is an organization that works to establish illegal settlements and outposts throughout the West Bank and is perhaps considered the most important organization in the settlement movement. In 2017, Amana established a large office headquarters known as Beit Amana on the land in question.
Peace Now has learned that the Jerusalem Municipality is leasing a tract of land in the office building from Amana, and with the help of the Movement for the Freedom of Information, Peace Now obtained the contracts between Amana and the municipality and between Amana and the Israel Lands Authority.
As the evidence indicates, while Amana paid a one-time payment of NIS 913,640, it leases to the Jerusalem municipality an area of about 713 square meters in the building and receives from it NIS 930,892 each year as part of a 10-year contract with an extension option. The Jerusalem Municipality operates a branch of the Welfare Bureau for residents of the Israeli neighborhoods of the Northern Jerusalem area (and not the Palestinian neighborhoods where the building sits).
In its contract with Amana, the municipality undertakes that the Welfare Bureau will not provide services to “a public with a criminal nature, including treating drug users, methadone users and/or alcohol users.” Such a condition may be problematic in operating a Welfare Bureau that should assist disadvantaged populations with multiple problems, but it seems that Amana does not want in its office building, near its employees, people with difficult problems.
The Jerusalem Municipality chose to operate in the Palestinian neighborhood, specifically, a welfare bureau for the city’s Jewish residents, and the bureau serves northern East Jerusalem settlement neighborhoods such as of Neve Ya’akov, Pisgat Ze’ev, and French Hill.
Peace Now: Not only does the Jerusalem municipality “indulge” a settler organization with a nice income, it also participates in the establishment of a settlement in a Palestinian neighborhood by providing services to Israelis, in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood. Amana is profiting on the backs of Palestinians 3 times: It built a luxurious office building for itself in the midst of a Palestinian neighborhood; it also strengthens the settlement it built by bringing in Israeli visitors to the welfare office inside the Palestinian neighborhood; and has treated itself to a nice income of about a million shekels a year at our expense and with the help of state and municipal institutions.
For an article by Nir Hasson in Haaretz on the subject – see here
For Amana’s lease with the Jerusalem Municipality – see here
For Amana’s agreement with the Israel Lands Authority for the lease – see here