Aflalo may leave Knesset for JNF

Kadima MK would be replaced by Nino Abesadze.

After a week of battles over who would be Labor’s candidate to chair the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet Le’Israel, attention shifted on Tuesday to the question of who would be the organization’s honorary cochairman.
In the allocations at the World Zionist Congress, currently taking place in Jerusalem, the JNF/KKL chairmanship was given to Labor and the honorary co-chairmanship to Kadima. The latter party head, Tzipi Livni, is waiting to see what Labor decides before selecting her candidate, but she reportedly told a party activist who wanted the position that she was interested in giving it to an MK who was a former minister.
Kadima MK Eli Aflalo, a former immigrant absorption minister and World Kadima chairman, reportedly made it known that he would leave the Knesset if offered the post. Aflalo has long been one of Livni’s fiercest critics in the party, but they recently reconciled.
If Aflalo left the Knesset, he would be replaced by the next name on the list: Georgian-born journalist Nino Abesadze, who made aliya in 1996 after marrying Israel’s ambassador to Georgia.
Abesadze, 45, described herself in a 1993 interview with Haaretz as “as leftist as you can be,” and she spoke at last month’s Peace Now rally in Jerusalem.
But the former journalist at the Vesti and Novosty newspapers denied on Tuesday that she had far-Left views, comparing her stances to that of Livni.
Other names that have been raised in Kadima include MKs Shai Hermesh and Ze’ev Boim, and activists Ofer Laufman, Nehemia Reibi and Nehemia Ganot. Hermesh said Tuesday that he would only leave the Knesset to be agriculture minister.
But Livni’s associates declined to speculate.
“Tzipi said the decision will be hers, and she will make it based on whether Labor elects [Agriculture Minister] Shalom Simhon or current JNF/KKL chairman Effi] Stenzler,” a Livni associate said. “After they decide, we will decide on our candidate. Speculation about one name or another at this stage is not correct.”