The race for the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency is facing a fateful deadline on Wednesday, when Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid is set to reveal the government’s candidate for the post.
The chairmanship selection committee decided a month ago to allow new candidates to enter the race until November 17. Since then, many trial balloons have been raised, but Lapid has continually asked for more time ahead of the deadline.
As reported on Sunday, there is a strong possibility that the committee will receive a request from Lapid to extend the deadline.
Trial balloons that have come and gone include appointing Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, moving Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan to the post, and appointing a current cabinet minister to his post in New York.
Strategic Planning Minister Eli Avidar, who is a former diplomat, rejected the option of sending him to New York to take Erdan’s place in order to resolve the dilemma.
“I refused all diplomatic positions,” Avidar said. “I graduated from diplomacy in 2007.”
Lapid’s coalition partners said they had no problem with him making the decision. Labor leader Merav Michaeli told her faction on Monday that she would not demand that the post go to a woman. She said gender was one of several important criteria but not the only one.
However, 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 Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund following bad press, but a cousin who received a paid post has not quit.
Lapid’s 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.
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 professor Yaffa Zilbershats, and former MKs Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Danny Danon, Uzi Dayan, Michael Oren and Yankelevich.