MK Nachman Shai..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The race for the chairmanship of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael heated up Thursday, when Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai announced that he will challenge incumbent KKL head Efi Stenzler.
The leadership of the KKL will be decided at the World Zionist Organization’s Zionist Congress on October 20.
Assuming the Labor Party receives control of the KKL in the WZO, the candidate the party decides on is likely to head the environmental organization.
First, though, there will be many technical issues to work through, such as which body will choose Labor’s candidate.
The last time a KKL leader was chosen in 2011, such decisions were made in lengthy legal battles in internal Labor Party courts and external courts between Stenzler and former agriculture minister Shalom Simhon. The secretariat of Labor’s executive committee, a small panel of seven people, is to meet next week to begin the process.
At first it appeared that Knesset Economics Committee head Eitan Cabel would challenge Stenzler. The two men faced off against each other at a Labor convention two months ago, trading allegations of corruption.
Labor officials received the impression that Cabel has decided not to run, although he said that he is still undecided.
Sources close to Cabel said that if he decides not to run, Shai would likely quit the race, but Shai said he is in it to stay.
“I decided to run, because I think it’s a challenge,” said Shai. “The KKL can be used to advance Israel socioeconomically in 2015. It has the resources to do so, and they must be used correctly and transparently. I think there must be change in KKL to fit it for the challenge of today.”
Shai, 68, has experience running a large international Jewish organization.
He served as senior vice president of the umbrella organization the Jewish Federations of North America, which was called the United Jewish Communities at the time. He also was director- general of UJC’s Israel office.
Stenzler served as mayor of Givatayim for 13 years before becoming head of KKL. Both Stenzler and Shai hope to receive the support of Labor chairman Isaac Herzog, whose decision will carry a lot of weight, because he dominates the party’s institutions.
“Labor is a democratic party and anyone is free to run,” Stenzler said. “Last time, there was a competition, too. It is well known that I led KKL to new heights and I intend to continue to do so on behalf of the Jewish people and the development of the State of Israel,” he said.