Netanyahu working against Danon in Jewish Agency race

Former prime minister Netanyahu and World Likud chairman Danny Danon have feuded for many years.

 Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum, February 7, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum, February 7, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is actively attempting to sabotage the candidacy of World Likud chairman Danny Danon for head of the Jewish Agency, sources in the party revealed on Wednesday.

Netanyahu and Danon have feuded for many years. The former prime minister fired Danon from his post as deputy defense minister in 2014 for being too critical of a truce he had reached with Hamas. Danon has also run against Netanyahu for head of Likud.
Asked who the party supports to be head of the Jewish Agency, a Likud MK said that “the Likud is Netanyahu, and Netanyahu is just against Danny Danon.” Netanyahu initially supported former Likud MK Uzi Dayan’s candidacy to head the agency, but since Dayan’s departure from the race, he has not endorsed another candidate.
Another Likud MK, who is active in Jewish world politics, said he believes Netanyahu supports his former ambassador to the US Michael Oren. But if the Likud leader has such a preference, he has not said it to anyone involved in the race.
After last week’s initial round of voting in the agency chairmanship selection committee, it became clear that even though the top two vote-getters were former MKs Danon and Ruth Calderon, the two candidates with the best chance of getting selected were Danon and Oren.
 ONE OF the country’s most eloquent spokespeople, former ambassador Michael Oren, who is trusted by the pro-Israel American community, is an entirely underutilized resource. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90) ONE OF the country’s most eloquent spokespeople, former ambassador Michael Oren, who is trusted by the pro-Israel American community, is an entirely underutilized resource. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
One disadvantage faced by Danon is that other top posts in the World Zionist Organization are or will be controlled by Likud figures. The chairman of the WZO is Likudnik Yaakov Hagoel, who has been a political ally of Danon for two decades. Likud MK Haim Katz is set to become head of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund in November, following a rotation with World Mizrachi. Another vote by the selection committee has not yet been set, but is expected to take place in the middle of next week.
Hagoel said on Tuesday that the choice is complicated because he is both interim chairman of the Jewish Agency and head of the selection committee. He noted that the foreign, defense and finance ministers have each endorsed a candidate.
“For the first time, three government ministers recommended three different candidates for agency chairman,” he said at the B’sheva Conference. “We never encountered such a situation. We respect the government, and will choose the best person to lead this important organization.”
The support of nine out of 10 selection committee members is required for a candidate to be named. The deadline is the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting that begins on February 27.
The seven candidates in alphabetical order are Calderon, former MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Danon, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Oren, Belgian businessman Roby Spiegel and former minister Omer Yankelevich.