Nof Zion buyer believed to be Bashar al-Masri

Bank Leumi and DS Apex, lenders to troubled developer Digal, have been threatened with a NIS 100 million lawsuit if the sale to the Palestinian businessman goes ahead.

The Nof Zion neighborhood of Jerusalem is the dream of any devotee of Greater Israel: a spacious apartment, pure air, a view of the Temple Mount, and an opportunity to show the Arab villagers of Jabel Mukhabar who's boss. But now, there's a new boss, and he's Palestinian. The residents claim that Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat "allowed a Palestinian takeover of a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem."

Digal Investment and Holdings Ltd. (TASE: DIGL), which owns the land, built luxury apartments for the wealthy, and sold them to ideologically motivated Jewish residents who wanted to live in East Jerusalem. However, the project ran into financial difficulties, and Digal was forced to sell. A client of Adv. Dov Weissglass submitted the highest bid of the four that were received. The occupants of the seven buildings almost sighed with relief. There was just one small problem: the leading candidate to buy the property is Palestinian.

Who is he? According to "Globes" weekly magazine "G", rumor among the groups that bid for Digal has it that he is Bashar al-Masri, the developer behind the construction of Rawabi, the new city planned north of Ramallah. al-Masri has used the services of Adv. Weissglass before. Sources close to the negotiations with the Palestinian who were asked to confirm his identity avoided direct denial, strengthening the supposition that al-Masri is the man.

For Israel Zeira, CEO and owner of Bemuna Ltd., which sells housing cheaply to members of the religious nationalist community through buyer groups, this is still as a red rag to a bull. "I don't believe that a sale to a Palestinian, who will change the character of the neighborhood, will stand up in court. We have definite information that al-Masri is examining the idea of compensation for the Jewish residents so that they won't interfere with his plans. DS Apex (Digal's main bondholder) and Bank Leumi will face a claim for damages of NIS 100 million if they go along with this move, to make a few more pennies from Weissglass. It's hard to believe that Bank Leumi, a Zionist bank owned by the state, will become entangled in such a traitorous act."

A Bank Leumi spokesperson said he was prevented from commenting on the mater because of banking confidentiality.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on December 16, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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