Zionist orgs delay right-wing, religious deal for WZO

Due to the complaints of the center-left, liberal block, the Zionist organizations voted to delay the vote on the WZO officials.

 The WZO Hebrew program reaches an audience of 250,000 Jews worldwide each year (photo credit: WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION)
The WZO Hebrew program reaches an audience of 250,000 Jews worldwide each year
As the 38th World Zionist Congress kicked off Tuesday night, the Zionist organizations with voting rights in the body thwarted the efforts of the right-wing, religious-Zionist and ultra-Orthodox factions to elect the new chair and vice chair of the World Zionist Organization, postponing the vote till Thursday.
The unprecedented intervention of these organizations in a vote in the WZC presidium is a strong indicator that they determined to change the coalition agreement drawn up by the right-wing, Orthodox factions. The center, left-wing and non-Orthodox parties have condemned the agreement for excluding them from major positions of influence in contravention of historical precedent.
The coalition agreement is an informal document which allocates the different factions of the WZC with positions and departments within the four national institutions - the World Zionist Organization, Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael, Keren Hayesod, and the Jewish Agency. Critically, it gives them control of the budgets of those institutions, which amounts to between three and four billion shekels.
Due to the complaints of the center-left, liberal block, the Zionist organizations with voting rights, including Hadassah, Wizo, Bnei Brith International, Maccabi World Union, and others, voted to delay the vote on the WZO officials, a key part of the coalition agreement. This was to allow negotiations to continue despite the insistence of the right-wing, religious block to hold the vote Tuesday night as scheduled.
During the course of the day, the right wing bloc did make an improved offer to the left-liberal factions, although sources among the latter said the proposals offered only cosmetic changes and “crumbs” and were not acceptable.
Meetings are likely to continue on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Zionist organizations formally wrote to current WZO Chair Avraham Duvdevani and Deputy Chair Yaaov Hagoel calling on them to change the agreement to be more inclusive of the non-Orthodox streams and liberal factions.
Duvdevani has insisted that he made a fair and balanced offer to those factions three weeks ago and was rebuffed, although the progressive groups dispute this and argue the proposal was insufficient.
Later on Monday, the National President of Hadassah, the  organization with the largest number of votes in the WZC, described the proposed agreement as “unacceptable” and said it could alienate young Jews in the Diaspora from the Zionist movement.
“This agreement if passed could very well disenfranchise the younger men and women with whom we will be depending on for our future leadership roles to support the Zionist movement, which has always been inclusive of diverse ideologies,” wrote National President of Hadassah Rhoda Smolow.
The 38th congress was opened Tuesday afternoon with remarks from President Reuven Rivlin, who also called for the agreement to be equitable.
“I know elections were more turbulent than ever this year, but I hope you establish a coalition which represents the entire Jewish people during these complex times, when more than ever we need to be united,” said Rivlin.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept his remarks above the political fray, although his lieutenant, Likud MK Miki Zohar, who is orchestrating much of the maneuvering for the right-wing factions, lauded the recent normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Netanyahu said:“This peace expresses recognition of the legitimacy of the state of the Jews in the homeland of our ancestors. We are here and it is our right to be here.”
Earlier on Tuesday, director of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel, Dr. Yizhar Hess, welcomed the support of the Zionist organizations and warned that the exclusion of the non-Orthodox streams from influence in the Zionist institutions could have dramatic consequences.
“I am concerned for the fate of the national institutions. I hear central voices in the Conservative Movement of North America who are saying there is no longer any reason for the [non-Orthodox] streams to participate in the Zionist institutions,” said Hass.
“If in this place in Israel the denominations will also not have a place at the table, if in the institutions that the Jewish people and the non-Orthodox streams established are not partners in forming policy - we will leave them. We will continue to love the State of Israel, we will continue to be Zionists, but we will do it from outside.”