The Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Uri Seligman, said he would like to review proposals that would define the criteria needed for the traditional "cooperative kibbutz" to be permitted to switch to moshav status.
"In any case, a kibbutz will only be allowed to switch to the status of a moshav in extreme cases, which are those in which the economic survival of its members would be at stake," Seligman said at a conference of the kibbutz movement this week.
In a first comment, the Registrar of Cooperatives, which categorizes the status of cooperatives, expressed his discontent with the proposals of the commission on "Change of status from kibbutz to moshav," which was set up about two years ago by then minister of justice Tzipi Livni.
Seligman said the commission had not worked together with the kibbutz movement when formulating the new recommendations, which have not yet been officially published.
Because of the many difficulties, the Registrar of Cooperatives will request that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not pass the recommendations until after a proper review and modifications have been added.
More and more kibbutzim have been struggling under the burden of heavy financial debt and, therefore, are having difficulties supporting themselves economically and socially.
"We estimate that today around 30 to 40 kibbutzim are in an economic and social crisis, where also the young generation has left or is pursuing external professions," Aviv Leshem, spokesperson of the kibbutz movement.
Today, Israel's 267 kibbutzim count 320 enterprises and 10 civil corporations for a total population of about 100,000 members.
Mishmar David, near Ramle, was a pioneer among kibbutzim - the first to dismantle itself in order to become an ordinary Israeli community or moshav in 2001 as more and more members sought individual fulfillment.
Over the past years a growing number of kibbutzim have become privatized and lost their socialist philosophy due to social changes and economic hardships. The majority of kibbutzim have been in need of structural change, which in turn has led to modified or new cooperative models alongside the regular "cooperative kibbutz."
At the end of last year, Olmert, as minister of finance and minister of industry, trade and labor, signed into effect regulations that create a new category of cooperative community: the "renewal kibbutz" (kibbutz mit'hadesh). The new model allows for the division of the budget among members according to their contribution to the community, position or seniority - and not necessarily equally.
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