Zionist Congress Ratifies Jewish Agency Extension Pact
Menu JTA Search

Zionist Congress Ratifies Jewish Agency Extension Pact

Download PDF for this date

The pact between the Zionists and non-Zionists to form a joint Jewish Agency for Palestine was ratified by the Sixteenth Zionist Congress, in session here, by a majority vote.

Varying majorities rallied to the support of the Weizmann policy as the constitution for the extended Jewish Agency, containing fifteen paragraphs and numerous sub-sections, in which the new agreement was embodied, was put to a vote, paragraph by paragraph and sub-section by sub-section, in an all-night session, lasting until the early hours of Thursday morning. The majorities which helped by their strength to give birth to the extended Jewish Agency varied from 148 to 115, and the opposition minorities varied from 84 to 12. A number of amendments to the text urged by the Zionist Executive and recommended by the majority of the Jewish Agency Committee were passed, without a binding character, however. The solid blocs prepared at caucuses by the various groups for the decision of the great issue were shattered as decisions were made point by point. The Laborites did not vote along a single line, but frequently abstained from voting and, on other occasions, split their votes. The Zionist Revisionists did not participate in the votes on the amendments, except the one on the dissolution clause, as they declared themselves opposed in principle to the extension plan.

Although the Weizmann policy emerged victorious in the major issues, clearing the way for the consummation of his long-cherished plan, which is about to be realized on Sunday afternoon in Zurich when the Jewish Agency Council will go into session, the final step in the ratification has still to be taken at the roll call of the 322 delegates from nearly 30 countries. The constitution, adopted in its first reading at the Wednesday night session, is to be voted upon again in its second and third readings during the closing sessions of the Congress.

When the Thursday afternoon session opened, the final steps were again halted due to the attitude of the Laborites, who insisted that the roll call cannot be taken, before the new Executive is formed. This delayed the passage of the accompanying resolutions, recommended by the Jewish Agency Committee, authorizing the Zionist Executive to officially affix its signature to the pact between the Zoinists and non-Zionists.

Because of the present political conditions in Great Britain, where the Labor party is in power, the Zionist leaders are eager to secure the inclusion of a labor representative on the new Executive. However, as this session, scheduled to be one of the last of the Sixteenth Zionist Congress, is still going on, no progress has been made in the composition of the Executive.

Two major issues came to the foreground in the protracted debate over the ratification of the Jewish Agency constitution. In both, the Weizmann administration policies scored victories. The first concerned the clause in the constitution which provides, in accordance with the Weizmann-Marshall agreement, that the extended Jewish Agency or the agreement concerning its formation between the Zionists and non-Zionists, may be terminated only by a two-thirds majority vote vote of the members of the Council. This clause was upheld by a majority of 115 to 84, following a spectacular and dramatic encounter between Dr. Stephen S. Wise and Dr. Weizmann.

The second concerned the demand of the Mizrachi, Orthodox Zionists, that the Executive be urged to take steps toward the inclusion in the program of the extended Jewish Agency care for the Jewish religious needs in Palestine. This was fought over fiercely, the Laborites and the Radical Zionists protesting vehemently, while the Mizrachists threatened to abandon their pro-Agency stand and cast their votes against it in case their demand is not fulfilled. This recommendation, which had the support of the Committee on the Jewish Agency, was passed by a majority of 148 to 12.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund