Former UN ambassador Danny Gillerman has turned down a request that he run for chairman of the Jewish Agency, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The position is expected to become vacant following February's national election, as current Chairman Ze'ev Bielski is No. 15 on Kadima's Knesset candidates list. According to a source who works closely with the Jewish Agency, Gillerman was the front-runner for the post, and was expected to easily gain the needed support of the different factions in the World Zionist Organization, required to be elected to the chairmanship, including representatives of Israeli political parties, the large religious movements overseas and American and international donor organizations. Gillerman confirmed on Monday he had been approached, but said he turned down the proposal. "The Jewish Agency is a wonderful and important organization, but I made a decision to leave public service after many years of service in order to concentrate on other things," he said. Even so, an official familiar with the ongoing search for a new chairman suggested Gillerman had not rejected the offer outright. "He's not groveling for the position, but people are saying that if they give the position more powers to run things, he'll reconsider," the official said. As the search continues, sources within the agency believe there is a desire to move away from candidates who represent political parties. Thus, the people being considered for chairmanship - some have not yet been approached - include businesspeople Ofra Strauss, Eitan Wertheimer and Avi Naor, and veteran educator Avraham Infeld. One politico who agency officials are considering approaching is Labor MK Colette Avital. Speaking to the Post, Avital said she had not heard from agency officials about such a move. She said she agreed with the desire to choose a nonpolitical agency head, adding that any politician who would be considered for the job should be willing to leave politics for it. Last year, Avital was a candidate for president.