Jewish Agency chairman selection deadline likely to be extended

Lapid's bad press for appointing family members makes Wednesday's deadline especially problematic.

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

The Jewish Agency chairmanship selection committee is likely to receive a request from Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid for more time to choose the government’s candidate for the post, and they will approve the request, sources involved in the process said Sunday.

The committee decided a month ago to allow new candidates to join the race until November 17, immediately after the deadline for the government to pass the state budget.

The government asked for the delay due to concerns that rebel Minister Eli Avidar would quit the cabinet, return to the Knesset and vote against the budget if he is not promoted in the cabinet to a post that could be vacated by a possible new candidate, such as Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai.

There was also concern that Defense Minister Benny Gantz would rebel if his candidate, former Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich was not chosen.

Since then, the budget has been passed, but there are no indications that Lapid has chosen a candidate or even spent time on the matter. He has evaded questions about the it in Yesh Atid faction meetings.

Also, Lapid’s recent appointments of family members to posts in Zionist institutions have been scrutinized, making the timing of Wednesday’s deadline especially problematic. His sister-in-law, Ilil Keren, quit her volunteer post on the board of Keren Kayemet Le’Israel following bad press, but a cousin who received a paid post has not quit.

Lapid has not agreed to meet with current candidates who hoped to win his support.

 Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern seen during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on October13, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern seen during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on October13, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

His candidate had been Yesh Atid minister Elazar Stern, who quit the race after a scandal over his shredding of anonymous complaints when he was a senior IDF officer.

A final decision will only have to be made before the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting in February.

Meanwhile, World Zionist Organization chairman Yaakov Hagoel remains acting chairman of the agency, a post he has held since Isaac Herzog was elected president in July.

Stern’s departure left eight candidates: ANU Museum of the Jewish People director Irina Nevzlin, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Bar-Ilan University law prof. Yaffa Zilbershats and former MKs Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Danny Danon, Uzi Dayan, Michael Oren and Yankelevich.