Almogi Elected New Chairman of the WZO by a Vote of 67-42

The Zionist General Council tonight elected Haifa Mayor Yosef Almogi the new chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive by a vote of 67-42. All 110 members of the Council cast ballots, one of them a blank. Almogi’s victory was by a considerably greater margin than expected by his opponent, acting WZO chairman Leon Dulzin.

Dulzin, who had predicted a close vote, has agreed to resign as acting chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive when the Agency Assembly convenes here this summer and that post will automatically go to Almogi. Sources close to Dulzin said tonight that he still intends to present himself as candidate for the WZO and Jewish Agency chairmanships when the next World Zionist Congress convenes here at the end of the year.

Almogi and Dulzin embraced after the results were announced and pledged cooperation. Yitzhak Navon, chairman of the Zionist General Council, praised the qualities and achievements of both candidates. He sought to console Dulzin by noting that he too knew the taste of defeat–once as a candidate for the Presidency of Israel and again when he stood for election as Speaker of the Knesset.

MOTION TO POSTPONE VOTE REJECTED

Almogi’s victory was assured earlier today when the Zionist Congress Court rejected a motion by Dulzin’s supporters to postpone the vote until the Jewish Agency Assembly meeting six months from now. The court, headed by Israeli Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau, said there was no justification for postponement because the WZO constitution states specifically that the election of a new chairman must be held at the session of the General Council “closest” to the date on which the position became vacant. That date was last August when WZO chairman Pinhas Sapir died suddenly.

The 65-year-old veteran Laborite who resigned from the Cabinet in 1974 to become Mayor of Israel’s third largest city, was strongly backed by the Labor Party who selected him to oppose Dulzin, a leader of Likud. He was elected by a combination of Labor, Mapam, Independent Liberal and General Zionist votes. The Mizrachi religious faction split.

Prior to the voting, Premier Yitzhak Rabin engaged in intensive personal lobbying for Almogi among the General Council delegates from Israel and abroad. His efforts were credited with bringing some Mizrachi votes and other waverers into the Almogi column. Dulzin’s supporters for their part had hoped to corral some Labor Party dissidents or at least more blank ballots, but their efforts failed.

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