JNF chairman Effi Stenzler 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Petah Tikva District Court put an end to a two-year legal battle on Tuesday
when it ruled that Jewish National Fund (JNF) world chairman Effi Stenzler will
remain in his post, despite efforts by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to unseat
Barak had hoped to give the plum job to one of his allies, such as
Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon or former minister Shimon
Shetreet. But the court ruled that the job must remain in Stenzler’s Labor
Party. The court did not allow Barak’s Independence Party to field Shetreet as a
candidate against Stenzler.
The court ordered Shetreet to pay Stenzler
NIS 50,000 in legal expenses. The judge criticized Barak’s Independence Party,
Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and other parties that wanted to take the post away from
Labor, despite coalition agreements in the World Zionist
The court ordered the parties to pay damages as
“This case is a grave violation of a written contract,” Judge Ofer
Grosskopf wrote. “Those wanting to break the agreement were doing so out of
their own interests. There is no choice but to end this episode, which should
have concluded a long time ago.”
The ruling was a big victory for
Stenzler, who did not give in to pressure from Barak, who tried several
political and legal maneuvers to oust him. An additional victor was MK Eli
Aflalo (Kadima), who will be given the post of honorary JNF co-chairman at the
next JNF Assembly on January 4. He will be replaced in the Knesset by Avi Duan,
a political ally of MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima).
“This is a victory for
justice and democracy,” Stenzler said.
“The court ruled that even in
politics there is a red line that cannot be crossed and agreements must be
honored. Now is the time to move the JNF forward in order to improve the
environment and the lives of the people of Israel.”