JNF to pay Zionist movement NIS 87m in secret deal

Daniel Atar
Daniel Atar

Israeli political parties used jobs in Zionist institutions as political plums for their members.

The secret agreement signed by political parties and movements to distribute jobs in Zionist institutions reached at last week's World Zionist Congress shows that the jobs were given out according to the relative strengths of each party. The Yesh Atid Party, headed by MK Yair Lapid, the only party that did not sign the agreement, yesterday demanded exposure of the deal at the Knesset Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information, but committee chairman Stav Shafir rejected the demand, accusing Yesh Atid of cooperation in the transferal of hundreds of millions of shekels to the World Zionist Organization settlement division without transparency. Signers of the agreement include representatives of Likud, Zionist Union, Yisrael Beitenu, the Mizrahi movement (formerly the National Religious Party), Shas, and Kulanu, headed by Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon.

The copy of the agreement obtained by "Globes" shows that the Labor Party, together with Meretz, obtained the posts of Jewish National Fund (JNF) chairman (MK Daniel Atar was elected), head of the Zionist enterprises department in the Jewish Agency, and head of the education department, which is responsible for many activities of overseas emissaries and the budgets for the Reform and Conservative movements. Likud and Shas are keeping the posts of Jewish Agency chairman (occupied by Natan Sharansky), vice-chairman of the World Zionist Organization, and a list of positions in overseas public relations and the struggle against anti-Semitism.

The Mizrahi movement, together with Yisrael Beitenu and the National Union Party, received the positions of World Zionist Organization chairman, head of the settlement division (now the responsibility of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel), JNF vice-chairman, the Diaspora Orthodox spiritual services apparatus, and the department for encouraging Aliya (immigration to Israel).

The agreement shows that Kulanu, which was taking part in these negotiations for the first time, was responsible for the election of former Minister and MK Uzi Landau as JNF co-chairman during the negotiations between the political parties. The agreement also includes a precise list of the jobs reserved for the parties. For example, Shas International is getting the vice-chairmanship of JNF, Likud International - vice-chairmanship of JNF responsible for the financial committee, Labor Party - chairmanship of the Spielberg archives, and Labor Party, Mizrahi, and Likud - directors in the JNF asset company.

The agreement contains a special clause for additional funding for the institutions' activity. This budget comes from JNF's income on the sale of its land by the Israel Land Authority. It was stipulated that by 2021, JNF would give the institutions NIS 69 million a year, and would add a further NIS 18 million a year when their spheres of activity are expanded, for example in order to pay for the events celebrating the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 29, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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