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Will a PM choice for Jewish Agency head be nixed by nominating committee, again?

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The election of Isaac Herzog as the 11th president of the State of Israel set off a political struggle over the appointment of his successor as chairman of the Jewish Agency.

Before 1948, the Jewish Agency was the central player in the establishment of the State of Israel, and in the early years of the state served a vital role in its development. Today it handles key aspects of immigration by Jews to Israel, and serves as a prime beneficiary of Diaspora donations to the Jewish state.

The organization spends — together with various groups that co-fund its programs, the largest of which is the Israeli government — over $370 million each year in Israel and around the Jewish world.

By tradition, the prime minister suggests a candidate to head the quasi-governmental organization — the world’s largest Jewish nonprofit organization — and the candidate is generally rubberstamped by the agency’s nominating committee and then by its board of governors.

To win the nomination to head the Jewish Agency, a candidate must receive the support of nine out of 10 members of the committee, led by World Zionist Organization chairman Yaakov Hagoel and including four other members of the WZO, three representatives from the Jewish Federations of North America, and two representatives from Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal.

The committee, whose members meet with all candidates, is scheduled to convene in the coming weeks and must pass the name of an approved candidate to the board of governors by mid-October. Though these meetings have not yet begun, there is already political agitation behind the scenes.

While the selection committee is not obligated to vote for the prime minister’s preferred candidate, it has only once rejected the premier’s pick — in 2018, when then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented Likud minister Yuval Steinitz as a candidate at the last minute before a vote on Herzog, then the only person in the race.

Herzog’s election, the last time a chair was chosen, was the first time the Jewish Agency had rejected........

© The Times of Israel

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