A-G’s office probing whether Simhon can head JNF

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s office sends a letter announcing the probe to the Ometz watchdog organization.

June 23, 2010 05:50
1 minute read.
Shalom Simhon pose

Shalom Simhon pose 2 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Deputy attorney-general for legislation Nurit Goren has opened an investigation into whether it would be legal for Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon to go directly from his current post to the chairmanship of the Jewish National Fund, The Jerusalem Post learned on Tuesday.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s office sent a letter announcing the probe to the Ometz watchdog organization, which asked him to intervene in the matter in a June 10 letter. The response from Weinstein’s office to Ometz lawyer Boaz Bentzur said that Goren would look into legal aspects and the facts of the case.

“They are checking whether there is a conflict of interest in the agriculture minister leaving to head an organization like JNF, that deals directly with his ministry, and whether there must be a cooling-off period [in-between],” Ometz chairman Aryeh Avneri said.

Ometz’s letter to Weinstein compared Simhon’s case to that of former Agriculture Ministry director-general Yael Shaltiel, who accepted an appointment as director-general of JNF, but only after a cooling-off period between the two positions.

Simhon was elected to head JNF by the Labor/Meretz/Reform faction of the Zionist Congress on Thursday. Israeli Labor delegates boycotted the vote, which current JNF head Effi Stenzler made a point of not participating in, because he considered it illegal. A Petah Tikva District Court judge canceled the vote that night in response to a petition from Stenzler.

A spokeswoman for Simhon said that “Stenzler should have run in what she said was a democratic election by secret ballot in the faction instead of insisting on fighting the battle in the courts.”

But Stenzler said the faction was not the proper forum to decide Labor’s candidate for the post. A final decision in the ongoing court case is expected on Sunday afternoon.

“I just want Labor to do what it told the court it would do: Hold democratic elections in its correct institutions,” Stenzler said.

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