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(Keren Kayemet LeIsrael). Agency responsible for afforestation and land reclamation in Israel, established in 1901 by the World Zionist Organization at its fifth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. Its initial purpose was to purchase land in Palestine through small donations from Jews around the world. The JNF’s principles were greatly influenced by the agricultural laws of the Bible. They provided that land purchased by the JNF must remain the inalienable possession of the Jewish people. It cannot be sold or mortgaged; it may be leased only to individual pioneers or groups of settlers at a normal rental period of 49 years, renewable only by the original contractor. In 1903, the Jewish National Fund made its first land purchases in the lower Galilee and continued to make purchases that would form the foundation of what would become the State of Israel. These purchases determined the future sites of forests, cities, kibbutzim, universities, settlements, and strategic outposts. Many of the first Jewish settlements in Palestine were founded with the aid of the JNF which, in addition to land, provided farm equipment, livestock, and expert advice. Arab riots and the British Mandatory government’s legal restriction on land purchase failed to curtail JNF land acquisition. The United Nations’ 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine drew Israel’s borders along the lines of the JNF’s land holdings. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, JNF work shifted from land purchase to reclamation and afforestation. The JNF’s major projects have included the reclamation of thousands of acres for agriculture, recreation, housing, industry, tourism, reservoirs, and roads. The JNF’s historic achievements include the planting of more than 200 million trees; the reclamation of 875,000 acres of difficult terrain for farming, housing, and industry; the preparation of land for 1,100 rural villages; the building of more than 3,750 miles of rural roads, and the creation of 440 major parks and picnic areas throughout Israel. Thirty percent of Israel’s population lives on land which the JNF has prepared.

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