After more than a hundred years the Interior Minister has
decided to violate the condition upon which the Rothschild
Family consented to donate more than 75,000 acres of valuable
land to the State.
The story began way before the first years of the State of
Israel. The grandson of renowned philanthropist Edmund de
Rothschild, wanted to help the new nation-in-formation, and
found an original means of doing so by transferring more than
75,000 acres of family-held land. He set one condition for the
contribution: that out of all of the tens of thousands of
acres transferred to State ownership, a "small" tract be set
aside for the family in the area of Caesaria.
And since it's generally considered unwise to argue with such
important contributors, the State "agreed" to accept the
contribution along with the attached condition.
Thus the decision was made to set up the Caesaria Fund, in
which the State is also involved. The fund was designed to
develop the residential area of Caesaria and the nearby
industrial zone (a total of 7,500 acres). It was decided that
the money received from the sale of plots would be designated
as donations. Levi Eshkol, who was prime minister at the time,
did not oppose such a generous proposition and signed the
agreement with the Rothschilds.
But one small clause was included in the agreement,
stipulating that the area remain extra-territorial --
unincorporated into any municipality. Another small clause
stipulated that the extra-territorial status would apply until
Now, the hundreds of villas built on the expensive plots in
Caesaria can be easily seen from the highway. But over the
last decade an industrial zone has also been built to the east
of the city, in close proximity to Or Akiva, another urban
area. Some 120 factories have been constructed on 875 acres,
employing 4,500 workers. This economic boom allowed the
Caesaria Fund to distribute extensive contributions, most of
which went to the educational system in Or Akiva. But from the
standpoint of the heads of the local council there, the
arrangement was not so rosy. As an extra- territorial zone,
the factories in the Caesaria industrial park do not pay taxes
to any local council.
In order to appease the neighbors, former Interior Minister
Chaim Ramon decided to "discontinue" the agreement originally
signed with the Rothschilds 123 years ago, well before its
expiration date. Accordingly Ramon decided to divide
Caesaria's industrial park among nearby local councils,
thereby obligating the factories to pay local taxes.
The Caesaria Fund was furious. It is not every day that
someone scorns the representatives of Baron Rothschild in such