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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bank Leumi to be boycotted?

Bank Leumi may yet find itself the subject of a boycott by the religious Zionist community, after it turned down an offer by supermarket magnate Rami Levy to buy the interest of a bankrupt developer in a Jerusalem housing project. The project is only one third complete, and Bank Leumi's action may put two thirds of the project in the hands of a 'Palestinian' businessman. The other third of the project has been sold to religious Jews.
In light of the Bank Leumi rejection, Palestinian Authority semi-resident Bashir Al-Masri, represented by the same lawyer who advised Ariel Sharon during the Disengagement, Dov Weisglass, has redoubled his efforts to buy the lands of Nof Tzion.

Located to the east of Talpiyot and south of the Old City, the neighborhood was originally planned as a luxury project for wealthy apartment-seekers from abroad. When this did not pan out, the project was saved by the religious-Zionist public, for which its strategic spot, in terms of both Jewish-Arab demographics and a panoramic view of the Temple Mount and the Old City, increased its attractiveness. Thus, a new religious-Zionist neighborhood arose in eastern Jerusalem.

The first phase of the project was completed several years ago, and much has been written about the 90 families' satisfaction with their new neighbors and surroundings. However, they are now greatly apprehensive that if the project falls into Arab hands, the 180 planned units of Stages II and III of the project will not only not be built, but also that their own homes will become an unsafe and unviable Jewish enclave surrounded by Arab homes.

They have therefore threatened to take Bank Leumi – the guarantor of the project – and the Digal development company to court for backing down on their much-touted plans to ensure that the project is for the national-religious public.

Bank Leumi has rejected Levy’s offer, saying that it prefers to break up Digal altogether and sell its assets – including the land of Nof Tzion – to the highest bidder. This once again leaves the field open to Al-Masri. Al-Masri has also taken another step, seeking to buy out the shares of Digal.

A letter of intent to boycott Bank Leumi has already been signed by top rabbis in the religious-Zionist camp.
If Bank Leumi is boycotted over this project, it could find itself boycotted in the US as well.

I have previously written about the Nof Zion project here.

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