“Elad Papers”: Shell Company Funding for Settlements in the OPT

The Ministry of Justice has begun looking into donations of millions of dollars made to the right-wing organization Elad, following an expose published in Haaretz’s last month detailing the donations the organization received during the last eight years. Based on documents Elad submitted to the Justice Ministry’s Registrar of Non-Profit organizations, the NGO received donations of more than 450 million shekels ($115 million), during this period of time, and most of the money, 275 million shekels, came from companies registered in global tax shelters like the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and the Seychelles. According to in report in Haaretz, it isn’t clear who is behind or controls these companies. The State Comptroller has also announced that, following the Haaretz report, he has begun examining the organization’s activities.

Jewish settlement in Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem

Jewish settlement in Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem (Photo: Activestills)

The activities of the NGO Elad focus on settling Jews in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, where it also and runs tourist and excavation sites. Some of the companies which donate money to Elad also contribute to other right-wing groups like the Yesha Council of settlements, or to the election campaigns of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At least one such company is linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea soccer club in the UK.

Following last month’s report in Haaretz, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List) asked the attorney general to open an investigation into the sources of Elad’s funding. “According to Haaretz’s investigation, the settler NGO Elad receives hundreds of millions of shekels in donations from companies registered in tax shelters worldwide – the identities of the controllers of which are not at all clear,” Khenin wrote to the attorney general. “This makes it extremely difficult to trace the real donors or their business. On the face of it, Elad has not fulfilled the requirement [incumbent on any NGO] that its donors and sources of funding be clear and transparent.” This apparent non-conformance with norms “makes it necessary to immediately stop the funneling of public funds to Elad, including funds from Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Agency and state funds,” he wrote. Khenin also wrote the law enforcement agencies should also investigate Elad’s conduct which, according to the MK “is ambiguous.”

Elad is also embroiled in a legal battle with the government over a planned archaeology park next to the Western Wall. For details, see the related posts cited below.