Israel Land Leases

The Israel Land Administration (ILA; Hebrew: מנהל מקרקעי ישראל‎; Arabic: مديرية أراضي اسرائيل‎) (“Minhal Mekarka’ei Yisrael”) is an Israeli government authority responsible for managing land in Israel which is in the public domain.

Legal framework

Four Israeli laws form the legal basis of its land policy:

  • Basic Law: Israel lands (1960) states that all the lands owned by the state of Israel will remain in state ownership, and will not be sold or given to anyone.
  • Israel Lands Law (1960) details several exceptions to the basic law.
  • Israel Land Administration Law (1960) describes the details of establishing and operating the Israel Land Administration.
  • Covenant between the State of Israel and the World Zionist Organization (establishing the Jewish National Fund) (1960)

History

The Israel Land Council sets policy for the ILA. It is chaired by Israel’s Vice Prime Minister, the Minister of Industry, Trade, Labor and Communications. The Council has 22 members; 12 represent government ministries and 10 represent the Jewish National Fund. The Director General of the ILA is appointed by the government.

“Ownership” of real estate in Israel usually means leasing rights from the ILA for a period of 49 or 98 years. The Israel Lands Administration distinguishes between urban land and agricultural land: Urban land is leased for periods of 49 years with an option to extend the lease for another period of 49 years. Under Israeli law, the Israel Land Administration cannot lease land to foreign nationals. In practice foreigners may be allowed to lease if they show that they are eligible to immigrate to Israel in accordance with the Law of Return. In 2000, the High Court ruled that the State may not allocate land to its citizens on the basis of religion or nationality, even if it allocates the land through a third party such as the Jewish Agency. The Court’s decision precludes any restrictions on the leasing or sale of land based on nationality, religion, or any other discriminatory category.

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