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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Jewish Agency Assembly voted on Tuesday to approve a governance reform meant to allow the World Zionist Organization to stand on its own financially, and weaken Israeli political dominance over the agency.
The debate surrounding the reform has centered on Israeli government demands to nominate former Likud MK Natan Sharansky as chairman of both organizations.
On Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday, the newly-formed Leadership Nominating Committee of the Jewish Agency will meet to discuss Sharansky, whom Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has nominated for the position.
According to Diaspora fundraising organizations and Israeli political leaders alike, Sharansky is expected to win the nomination.
On Tuesday, Sharansky met Reform Jewish delegates, who asked that he support the religious pluralism issue as chairman of the agency, including recognizing Reform conversions in Israel.
In the meeting on Tuesday, Sharansky told the delegates that "religious pluralism is a human right" and promised that he would support it.
"Sharansky represents a more honest approach than in previous years" to religious pluralism, commented Rabbi Stanley David, a delegate at the WZO who participated in the meeting.
The remaining obstacle to Sharansky's chairmanship appears to be Israeli political negotiations over jobs in the WZO, with Kadima, Labor and Israel Beiteinu demanding a larger share of a smaller pool of positions following the governance changes.
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