Holocaust victims owned many properties in Israel. The Custodian General, who holds most of them, has more than 1,000 real estate properties and a few thousand bank accounts that had been transferred to him in the ’50s and ’60s.
In 2005 the parliamentary committee headed by MK Colette Avital (Labor) estimated the real value of the bank accounts at close to NIS 1 billion.
Numerous other properties are held by the national institutions such as the Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund and Jewish Colonial Trust, which controls close to five percent of Bank Leumi shares. It is highly probable that private bodies such as Rassco, Yakhin Hakal and Hachsharat Hayishuv (ILDC) also hold properties belonging to Holocaust victims.
Avital’s committee brought about the enactment of the law, which is intended to help locate and restore the properties of Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Enacted in December 2005, the law stipulates that a government company must manage the location and restoration work. The company is authorized by law to approach any body that holds Holocaust victims’ property and demand it. The company is obliged to give priority to heirs in restoring the property. At the same time it is permitted to pay the money from selling property to needy Holocaust survivors or bodies helping them. As a second priority it may distribute funds dealing with commemorating the Holocaust such as Yad Vashem.
The company, whose board of directors are headed by Avraham Roth, former chairman of the association of Jews from the Netherlands, started operating in September of last year.
Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent
Webmaster note: It’s difficult to decide which is more amazing about this information, the fact that Jews who died in 1945 or before owned land in a country that did not exist until 1948, or the fact that banks in Israel seem to be just as bad as those evil banks in other countries such as Switzerland. What do you want to bet that these banks in Israel won’t have to pay penalties for holding onto these assets?