Kadima Party to go international

The party will compete for positions on world Jewry's major bodies.

elections06.article.298 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Kadima is going international to compete for positions on world Jewry's major bodies, including the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, and Keren Hayesod. Shlomo Gravetz is expected to be given the post of World Kadima chairman, though the party has not yet made an official announcement. Kadima also needs to set up five offices around the world to be able to participate in the World Zionist Congress elections on June 19.. The vote in that body and the coalition deals coming out of it determine which parties will control major Jewish bodies under the umbrella of the World Zionist Organization. The offices are expected to be opened imminently. But even so, some connected to the WZO expressed doubts about whether Kadima would be able to compete in the elections, since the deadline for the June vote is looming. The timing could mean that the party does not qualify for the race. Gravetz is currently number 43 on the Kadima list and a former chairman of the JNF for World Likud. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon worked to unseat him from the latter post by backing his opponent in 2002. But Gravetz has always enjoyed the support of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a lifelong friend. Gravetz also used to run the Jewish Zionist Education department of Jewish Agency and once headed World Betar. "He's very right-wing in his views, so it's very ironic about him joining Kadima," said one World Zionist Organization official, who noted that the 58-year-old Gravetz was very sick with cancer. "Because of his illness, people are giving him the benefit of the doubt." The Likud, meanwhile, launched its Anglo Web site this week, which currently consists merely of an English-language translation of its platform but should soon list Anglo events and relevant media stories. "We finally got it off the ground. It's really just the initial, first step. Hopefully it will continue to improve, not just with the election but afterwards as well," said Ari Harrow, director of the Likud's Anglo division. He said upcoming English-language events will feature Likud MKs Natan Sharansky and Uzi Landau as well as a larger event in Jerusalem a week before the elections, with Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. Harrow pointed to a recent Jerusalem Post report that approximately 15,000 immigrants would be eligible to cast their first Israeli vote on March 28. "That's an untapped market, and it's definitely a place where the Likud can pick up some votes," he said. In other Anglo election news, the National Union's Anglo division will host parlor meetings with Anglo candidate Uri Bank and others around the country every night this week. Party Chairman Benny Elon will be speaking Thursday night in Hashmonaim. On Sunday, the party will also hold a nationwide Anglo activist meeting in Jerusalem along with the National Religious Party.