Judge to decide JNF leadership dispute

Hearing this week could decide who will be JNF chairman.

KKL-JNF-at-20th (photo credit: kkl)
(photo credit: kkl)
The Petah Tikva District Court will hold a hearing on Sunday that could decide who will be the chairman of the Keren Kayemet L’Israel/Jewish National Fund, after an ongoing dispute between current chairman Effi Stenzler and Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon.
Simhon was elected to head KKL/JNF by the Labor/Meretz/Reform faction of the Zionist Congress on June 17. Israeli Labor delegates boycotted the vote, which Stenzler made a point of not participating in, because he considered it illegal.
In response to a petition from Stenzler, a Petah Tikva District Court judge issued a restraining order that night putting the results of the vote on hold until Sunday’s hearing. Stenzler charged Simhon with showing disrespect to the court for not following its order to hold a race between the two of them in the Labor Party’s institutions.
Simhon countered that the election was legal and that there was no need for Israeli Labor delegates to participate as long as he won a majority of the secret-ballot vote in the Labor/Meretz/Reform faction from Meretz, Reform and Labor delegates from overseas. His associates said Stenzler should have run or asked for a restraining order before the vote and not after it.
Deputy Attorney-General for Legislation Nurit Goren has opened an investigation into whether it would be legal for Simhon to go directly from his current post to the chairmanship of KKL/JNF.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s office sent a letter announcing the probe to the Ometz clean governance organization, which asked him to investigate whether Simhon would need a three-year cooling-off period before switching from one post to the other, due to potential conflicts of interest.
Yisrael Hayom reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has looked into the possibility of intervening to delay Simhon switching posts for a few months, because he needs his help politically. Simhon chairs the Labor faction and is considered the right-hand man of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.