Jewish Agency saga set to finally end Tuesday night

A new Jewish Agency head will be chosen among seven candidates after eight months.

The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

A long-awaited replacement for Isaac Herzog as chairman of the Jewish Agency is set to be chosen on Tuesday night, one day short of eight months after the Knesset elected Herzog as president on June 2.

The 10-member selection committee will convene online and will be asked to choose one of the seven candidates for the prestigious post. It is unlikely that any of the candidates will initially receive the support of the nine members of the selection committee needed to be chosen.

The candidates who receive the most votes in the first round will then be considered in a second round that will be conducted following negotiations within the committee.

“We will try to reach a conclusion, and I hope we will succeed,” a member of the selection committee said. “It hasn’t been simple. We have been trying to decide on a chairman for almost as long as it takes for a baby.”

The seven candidates in alphabetical order are former MK Ruth Calderon, former MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, former cabinet minister Danny Danon, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, former deputy minister Michael Oren, Belgian businessman Roby Spiegel and former cabinet minister Omer Yankelevich.

 President Isaac Herzog, then serving as Jewish Agency chairman, speaks during a rally in Jerusalem in 2020 held in solidarity with Jews in the US and around the world following a wave of antisemitic attacks. (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90) President Isaac Herzog, then serving as Jewish Agency chairman, speaks during a rally in Jerusalem in 2020 held in solidarity with Jews in the US and around the world following a wave of antisemitic attacks. (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Unlike past votes for Jewish Agency head, the government is split. Calderon is the candidate of Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman supports Spiegel, and Yankelevich has strong support from Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Shaked has been lobbying the selection committee to support Yankelevich in recent days. But sources close to her said she was acting as a friend to Yankelevich and not as an emissary of her longtime political partner, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has remained neutral since Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern quit the race.

Whoever is selected will be brought to a vote at the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting that begins on February 27.