Court forces JNF face-off in Labor Party

Ehud Barak had tried to prevent election in hopes of appointing his close ally Agricultural Minister Shalom Simhon to job.

JNF CHAIR EFI STENZLER (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Labor Party’s executive committee voted on Sunday to hold long-awaited elections for the chairmanship of the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet L’Israel, following a court ruling requiring the committee to hold a secret-ballot vote.
Labor chairman Ehud Barak had tried for months to prevent an election from being held in Labor, because he wanted to appoint his close ally, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, to the job.
But current JNF/KKL chairman Effi Stenzler and his allies took Barak to court and won.
Judge Avraham Yaakov of the Petah Tikva District Court ruled in Stenzler’s favor that the vote on whether there should be an election must take place and that the party must pay Stenzler NIS 35,000 for his legal expenses.
Labor Party’s executive committee then voted 87 to 60 at Beit Berl Teachers College in Kfar Saba to hold the election, which will be conducted in the coming weeks.
Labor officials close to Simhon said he had not decided yet whether to run in the election. They blamed his failure to prevent the election on enemies of Simhon and Barak.
Barak’s associates tried to distance themselves from the defeat and said that although he had wanted Simhon to get the job, when it came to the vote he made a point of not taking sides.
Stenzler called the vote “a victory for democracy” and said he was committed to rehabilitating the Carmel forest as the head of JNF/KKL for years to come.