Labor chairman defeats challenge Sunday on Jewish National Fund chairmanship at Labor’s Executive Committee.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
Labor chairman Ehud Barak emerged victorious in a battle over the world chairmanship of the Keren-Kayemet Le’Israel Jewish National Fund at Labor’s Executive Committee meeting Sunday night at Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum.Ahead of the vote, a group of protesters outside the event carried signs and distributed stickers accusing Barak of being afraid of democracy. But Barak put his proposal to a secret ballot vote of committee members and won 60 percent of the vote with 74 in favor and 50 against.“There is nothing like a good fight to get the blood flowing in your veins again,” Barak said. “To all the people eulogizing Labor, I say [quoting Mark Twain] that the rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated. We are alive and kicking, and we hope to return to the leadership of the country.”The battle was over the ability of Barak and his close ally, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, to appoint a selection committee that will decide Labor’s candidate for the KKL / JNF world chairmanship, in the likely event that the party is given the post in coalition talks for the international Zionist institutions. The talks will take place in Jerusalem next month.Barak and Simhon had appointed a selection committee made up of their allies. But an internal Labor court required them to bring the committee members to a vote of the executive committee.Simhon denied reports that he had already decided to seek the KKL / JNF world chairmanship. He said he may decide to keep his current post instead.“I have not said anywhere that I have decided to leave, so don’t rush to get rid of me now,” Simhon told reporters outside the meeting. “The real job I want is finance minister. If this job is given to Labor, I will consider it, but it’s still too early to talk about it.”AdvertisementSimhon also claimed the protesters were not genuine, but were JNF workers, whose union chairman is from Kadima, and municipal employees of Givatayim, whose longtime mayor was current KKL / JNF world chairman Effi Stenzler.Roy Ben-David, who heads Labor’s Kiryat Ono branch and led the unsuccessful effort against Barak and Simhon, vowed to challenge Simhon inside the Zionist institutions and prevent him from getting elected.“This is the beginning of the end of Labor,” he said after the vote. “Barak and Simhon decided to sell the party to hacks. The party had already committed suicide, but now they are putting the final nail in its coffin.”
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