(photo credit: (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, who announced his candidacy on Monday for
the chairmanship of the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet L’Israel, rejected
accusations on Tuesday that he was trying to flee from a floundering
RELATED:Matan Vilnai to run for JNF chairmanship
Vilna’i will compete in three weeks in a race against incumbent
JNF/KKL head Effi Stenzler that will be held by secret ballot in the Labor
executive committee. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon will not run in Labor,
but still hopes the courts will give him the job as the candidate of the united
Labor/Meretz/Reform faction in the World Zionist Organization.
Simhon before him, when Vilna’i announced his candidacy, he was immediately
attacked by Labor MKs who said he was only pursuing the post out of fear that he
would not be re-elected to the Knesset due to polls predicting Labor’s seats
falling from 12 to six.
“I don’t think Labor is a sinking ship,” Vilna’i
“The party is in a difficult situation and there are too many
conflicts about its future, but I have no doubt that it will overcome its
problems and rise again.”
Vilna’i, 66, stressed that even though if
elected he would quit the Knesset, he would remain active in Labor and would not
rule out running with the party for the Knesset again in the future.
spent Tuesday calling Labor executive committee members to ask for their
A former IDF deputy chief of General Staff, Vilna’i was first
elected to the Knesset in 1999. His father, Ze’ev, was a world renowned
geographer, an expert on the land of Israel, and was a longtime member of the
board of the KKL.
“Heading the KKL would close a circle for me, because
of my father and because when I finished the army, my first job was heading a
touring company,” Vilna’i said.
“Especially after the Carmel fire, we see
how important the organization is for Israel’s future.”
Asked how he
would handle a job in which English would be his main language, Vilna’i
responded in English: “I don’t have a problem with English. I can do it. I am
used to working in English.”