Likud, Kadima spar over Jewish Agency

Parties at odds over replacement for Ze'ev Bielski, who will step down Tuesday to be sworn in as Kadima MK.

zeev bielski 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
zeev bielski 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Likud and Kadima are dueling over who has the right to appoint an interim chairman of the Jewish Agency after Zeev Bielski steps down Tuesday when he is sworn into the Knesset as a Kadima MK. The interim chairman will be chosen in June at a meeting of the Zionist General Council in Jerusalem, and will be in office for the year that remains of Bielski's term. The candidate for the Jewish Agency chairmanship is traditionally recommended by the prime minister. The Likud, which backs Uzi Dayan for the position, says it has the right to name the candidate since it will form the next government. Kadima, which supports Menachem Ben-Sasson, insists that since the candidate will be completing the term of one of its MKs, it should have its say. Two dark-horse candidates include former Labor MKs Colette Avital and Rabbi Michael Melchior, although their chances are considered slim as neither has party backing. Non-political candidates are being considered as well. As the dispute rages over an interim chairman, an acting chairman will be appointed Tuesday night to fill the position until June. A possible candidate is the American chairman of the Agency's Board of Governors, Richard Pearlstone.