VILNIUS, LITHUANIA - An Israeli court has ruled that the Committee for Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE) and Ms. Faina Kukliansky, a Lithuanian attorney may not participate in the conference center development, on a Jewish cemetery.

The ruling is a blow to the developers of the controversial conference center initiative, as they were looking to include the Jewish participants to rubber stamp the project. The developers include the Lithuanian Government, Turto Bankas property bank and the Vilnius City Council.

The Israeli court’s decision effectively precludes all parties (including the Jewish members of the team) from being part of the development, stating that efforts of the developers to build an international conference center on the cemetery, violate Jewish and international law.

According to the court ruling, continued participation by the Jewish partners in the project is illegal. The court decision effectively jeopardizes the legal status of the project.

The absence of a bona fide Jewish participant in the development would render the project a non-starter, as the law in Lithuania requires that:

"Any construction or reconstruction work in the area of the graves or in the buffer zone is required to be carefully assessed and strictly controlled under the provisions of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the protection of immovable heritage and specific requirements of the special protection plan for the Cemetery."

Seemingly, even the cooperation of a Jewish person with the developers to participate in the development (in violation of the court decision), would not be of any assistance to the developers, as Lithuanian law requires that the developers comply with Jewish law and its “specific requirements” on which the Israeli court has already ruled.

The controversial conference center development has been strongly condemned by international Jewry, global politicians and multi-denominational spiritual leaders.

Sources in the Vilnius Jewish community confirmed that leaders have questioned the motives and good faith of the developers, for including the CPJCE and Kukliansky in the project, especially in light of recent allegations against Kukliansky of corruption and fraud.

Reports also indicate that Turto Bankas property bank has been blacklisted by financial institutions, for its involvement in the development of a conference centre on a cemetery. Turto Bankas did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.

The Israeli court decision was made by the Rabbi Nissim Korrelitz’s Supreme Court, a rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, which is held in high regard. The ruling is a reinforcement of halachic decisions made by the most senior experts in Jewish law. 


Paul Schneider

HRW (Europe)


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