Clash on JNF set for Sunday in Labor

Party's executive committee will decide the fate of the JNF chairmanship following court decision; Shalom Simhon Reform candidate.

Breaking news (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Breaking news
(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak faces a test of his leadership on Sunday when his party’s executive committee will convene at Beit Berl Teachers College in Kfar Saba to decide the fate of the chairmanship of the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet L’Israel.
The Petah Tikva District Court forced Barak to convene the meeting when it ruled last Thursday that he did not have the right to decide in a smaller forum that Labor would give up on the post in order to allow his ally, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, to run as the candidate of the Reform Movement.
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Incumbent JNF/KKL chairman Effi Stenzler said that in the meeting he would demand the cancellation of the decision to give up the JNF/KKL chairmanship and that a date be set to elect Labor’s candidate for the post. He submitted the signatures required to hold a secret ballot vote in the meeting.
“This is a struggle for the soul and character of the Labor Party,” Stenzler said. “All I want is a democratic election, unlike Barak, who wants a political patronage position for Simhon. I hope Barak honors the wishes of the court.”
But Labor officials close to Barak disputed Stenzler’s interpretation of the court case. They said the court required a discussion of the matter in the committee, not necessarily a vote.
The press will be barred from the meeting.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has helped Simhon by ruling that his current job would not create a conflict of interest that could prevent him from heading JNF/KKL. He also decided this week not to indict Simhon for allocating funds from his ministry to chickencoop owners.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss had written that the allocation was improper, because Simhon’s family owns chicken coops.