Court disqualifies Simhon’s election as JNF world chairman

Effi Stenzler now expected to retain chairmanship until 2014.

JNF chairman Effi Stenzler 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
JNF chairman Effi Stenzler 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Central District Court in Petah Tikva published a ruling on Sunday disqualifying Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon from the post of chairman of the Jewish National Fund.
Current JNF chairman Effi Stenzler had filed a petition to the court against Simhon’s appointment last year as chairman of JNF in June by the Meretz, Reform and World Labor representatives in the joint Labor/Meretz/Reform faction of the World Zionist Organization, on the grounds that the election had been conducted “undemocratically” and outside of Labor Party auspices.
The petition also named Defense Minister Ehud Barak, former religious affairs minister Shimon Sheetrit and the Artzeinu faction of the WZO.
A group of city mayors, including Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Holon Mayor Moti Sasson, also joined Stenzler’s petition.
In his ruling, Judge Avraham Ya’acov noted that according to the coalition agreement signed by the factions in the WZO, the candidate for JNF chairman must be chosen from the Labor Party in democratic elections.
However, despite this, Simhon and Sheetrit, both former Labor party members and now members of Barak’s Independence Party, and the WZO’s Artzeinu faction had acted contrary to the Labor Party’s interests by appointing Simhon as JNF chairman without an election.
Simhon’s appointment also constituted a substantial conflict of interests, the court found.
The court also criticized the Artzeinu faction of the WZO for acting with Simhon and Sheetrit to create an agreement “allowing an election process outside of the Labor Party, in spite of a clear opinion given by the court... that the election process must take place within the Labor Party.” The court ordered the Artzeinu faction to pay Stenzler’s court fees of NIS 310,000.
Stenzler told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the court’s ruling was a “great victory for the democratic way of the Labor Party.” The decision will enable Stenzler to maintain his post until the next World Zionist Congress in June 2014, because Labor formally elected him to the post in February with a majority of 82 percent after Barak and Simhon broke off from Labor to form the Independence Party.
The general council of JNF is expected to meet in the coming months to formally approve Stenzler’s continued chairmanship and the appointment of MK Eli Aflalo to the subordinate position of JNF honorary chairman.
A deal between Likud and the Independence Party that the Likud would work to ensure that the JNF chairmanship would go to a representative of the Independence Party is not expected to be implemented, because the Zionist General Council that could technically change the WZO coalition agreement will not meet again until next summer.