The two Israeli news reports below show that Moskowitz
is continuing his efforts to support anti-peace settlers and
to buy real estate with potential value in Israeli-Palestinian
peace negotiations. Aryeh Koenig, mentioned in the first report,
is almost certainly Aryeh King, who has claimed in past media
statements to be Moskowitz's son-in-law.
These July 30th news items were called to our attention by Americans
for Peace Now, who included the translations below in their
July 30th issue of Israel News Today.
The Beit Hanina Purchase
The Seller: Hebrew University; The
Buyer: The PA ; The Property: 96 Dunam
Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 4) by Roni Shaked and Shelly
Paz -- Hebrew University sold the Palestinian Authority a pot
of 96 dunams in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
The deal was signed recently between Hebrew University and the
Palestinian company Housing Council Corporation, which is actually
an official Palestinian Authority company that handles housing
matters in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority will pay
USD 1.1 million for the land to Hebrew University.
Officials involved in buying land in Jerusalem said yesterday
that Hebrew University preferred not to sell to Jews, because
it feared that Jews would build a Jewish neighborhood in the
heart of the Arab neighborhood-sparking great rage among HU's
overseas donors and hurting university fundraising efforts.
Hebrew University confirmed the transaction yesterday but rejected
the charge that HU chose to sell the land to Arabs and not Jews.
Hebrew University said that in recent years there were several
attempts to sell the land to official government bodies for
public usage, but the Jerusalem municipality, the Israel Lands
Authority, the Jewish National Fund and others refused to buy
The land is located between the old road to Ramallah and Begin
Road, on the border of Shuafat near Tel Foul, where the king
of Jordan planned to build his palace before 1967. Hebrew University
received the land as a donation from a friend, a son of the
Hoenig family, back in 1933.
In recent years Arabs squatted on the land and built on it illegally
using forged building permits. Eight months ago the Jerusalem
police uncovered a large land document forgery ring in East
Jerusalem; some of the forgeries were related to the university
Today a few wealthy people from East Jerusalem live there in
luxurious private homes. Palestinian sources said yesterday
that a residential neighborhood would be built there. They said
that the houses will be bought by private people who will receive
mortgages from the Arab Bank in Ramallah.
Sources involved in the purchase of land in East Jerusalem said
yesterday that Jewish millionaire Irwin Moscowitz offered Hebrew
University at least three times as much as the price the land
was eventually sold for to the Palestinians, but HU refused
to sell him the land. Moscowitz is considered affiliated with
the right wing and with the Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva, and also
bought the land on which the Jewish neighborhood in Ras Amoud
Aryeh Koenig, involved in buying land in Jerusalem, said yesterday
that HU offered the land to Israeli bodies at a price of USD
100,000 per dunam. He said, "This is an exorbitant price
that does not conform to market prices," whereas ultimately,
HU sold the land to the PA for only USD 11,500 per dunam.
Koenig also said that he had approached HU and expressed interest
in buying the land. He said that HU officials told him: "We
fear selling the land to Jews who are liable to build a Jewish
neighborhood there and cause us damage with our donors."
HU said yesterday that it had approached several government
bodies, including the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry
and the Jerusalem municipality, but none displayed any interest
in the land. After HU received permission to go head with the
sale, the land was offered for sale in 2002.
At one stage the sale was frozen, after a government official
told HU that he was interested in buying the land. "However,
this government official retracted his promise at the last moment,"
HU said. "With no other choice, we again had to offer it
for sale, and the deal was signed with the Palestinian company."
Hebrew University also said that the land could have been sold
for more money if not for the delays caused by the government
official going back on his promise. "If the land had not
been sold in the next few months, it would not have been possible
to sell it, because of illegal squatting, and in general, since
the Intifada broke out, it was impossible to get to the land."
Ten of the 96 dunam sold to the Palestinian Authority are owned
jointly by Hebrew University and an Israeli citizen. This Israeli,
by means of his lawyer, tried to stop the sale. People who were
involved in the deal say that Hebrew University agreed to sell
its part to the Israeli citizen on condition that he buy all
96 dunam. The citizen did not agree, and Hebrew University sold
the property to the Palestinian Authority.
The Power of a Minority
Yedioth Ahronoth (p. B1) by Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer
-- Just before the Likud referendum, a handful of close associates
known as the "farm forum" met at Shikmim Farm. Ad
man Reuven Adler warned that this referendum was like elections:
a staff needed to be set up, telemarketing needed to be done,
ads needed to be placed, people needed to be transported to
the polling booths. For all this, Adler said, you need money.
Lots of money.
Omri Sharon tensed. He could see the investigations coming.
"In this house we don't talk about these things anymore,"
This, more or less, is what buried the campaign. On the one
side were hundreds of thousands of settlers and their periphery,
imbued with a sense of justice, convinced they were fighting
for their existence, and awash in money. One regional council
head in Judea and Samaria said this week that he went to America
twice and came back with two fat checks from bingo tycoon Irwin
Moscowitz, one of many.
The Likud battle was one-sided. Its results are known. Now,
when the decision on evacuating settlements is getting into
its second and decisive stage, Sharon faces the same problem.
The settlers will go from house to house in the coming weeks
and will promise that they have love and that it will triumph.
They will get hundreds of thousands to sign their manifesto
of love, maybe more. Sharon, with all the aura that is part
of the position of prime minister, will face them nearly empty
handed, with an unenthusiastic cabinet, a cracked coalition,
a hostile party, a suspicious public and pockets that he must
"150,000 settlers are stealing the country, and six million
are going to the beach" the Prime Minister's Office laments.
Such phenomena are fairly common in the history of nations:
a minority that cares, that is willing to sacrifice, that considers
its battle an existential matter, leads the indifferent majority
to places it doesn't want to go. Sharon, despite his overwhelming
victory in the elections, is in a more difficult situation than
Rabin was during the Oslo period. His party is ostensibly behind
him, but is doing everything it can to sabotage his policies.
And the main thing: there is no single factor on the Israeli
street willing to enlist on behalf of the disengagement plan.
Not the Left, which suspects that disengagement is Sharon's
final stop, not a stop on the way, and which is skeptical toward
any government initiative. And of course, not the Right, which
considers the plan a road sign to Auschwitz. Even the world,
which should be cheering, is turning Sharon a cold shoulder.
The threat of sanctions against Israel is closer today than
On one front, the Palestinian one, the disengagement move has
generated real change. The rebellion against Arafat continues,
despite his and Abu Ala's efforts to create a display of reconciliation.
Gaza is seceding and is behaving like an independent entity.
"Our aspirations are coming true faster and with greater
intensity than we estimated," said one Sharon close associate.
The plan has not weakened American pressure on two matters by
an iota: the illegal outposts and the fence. Sharon promised
the American to evacuate the outposts, and did not keep his
promise. The administration did not give up: US Ambassador in
Israel Dan Kurtzer met on this matter on Tuesday with Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz to remind him of his promises. Mofaz told
him that IAF planes were now making photography sorties over
the outposts to ensure that any changes are documented. For
years the security establishment has been promising the Americans
to put an end to this phenomenon, and now it needs the aerial
photographs, as if this were enemy territory. That bad.
One Sharon associate said this week that all the government
bodies dealing with the settlement issue are full of settlers.
In fact, the government is paralyzed. For this reason, the Prime
Minister's Bureau chief decided to appoint Atty. Talia Sasson,
who in recent years was in charge of law enforcement of Jews
in the territories in the State Attorney's Office, to a position
that did not exist until today. Sasson is to authorize law enforcement
tools in respect to seizing lands and illegal outposts.
But it's not so simple. The Prime Minister's Office's legal
adviser told Weissglass that this appointment requires a tender.
Regretfully, Weissglass found a loophole. While an outside person
cannot be appointed, a team, or a committee, can. Weissglass
added the name of Baruch Spiegel, who has a job on the same
matter in the Defense Ministry, and called the two a "team,"
and now he is hoping for the best. The letter of appointment
will be sent this week.
Sharon has done quite a lot in the past few weeks to broaden
his government base. There are some ministers who say he has
not done enough. Among others, MKs in the Likud faction who
support disengagement feel that Sharon has neglected them, and
are slowly trickling into the anti-disengagement camp. However,
his main problem is not the politicians, but rather the public.
Sharon is not marketing his plan to the people. He is working
on the assumption that he has to deal with the Knesset and the
people separately. If he has a coalition, everything will work
Let's assume that a popular movement were to arise in Israel,
backed by business and academia, that tries to be a counterweight
to the settlers' campaign. Such movements can be organized.
The Likud would immediately smell a left wing conspiracy, and
Sharon's gain would be his loss.