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Almogi to Resign As Mayor of Haifa but Will Retain Seat in the Knesset

Yosef Almogi, who was elected chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive last night, said today that he will resign as Mayor of Haifa but would retain his Knesset seat as did his predecessor, the late Pinhas Sapir. He also said that he would continue to reside in Haifa. It is not certain who will succeed him as mayor of Israel’s third largest city. Speculation today centered on Uri Agami, a leader of the Labor Party’s Haifa branch.

Meanwhile, Leon Dulzin, defeated by Almogi for the WZO chairmanship, announced that he would step down as acting chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, probably when the Executive meets here next week. Almogi will then be appointed acting chairman. His elevation to the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency Executive will be formalized when the Agency’s Assembly holds its annual meeting here this summer. Dulzin will continue as treasurer of the WZO and Jewish Agency.

Almogi, a veteran of the Labor Party, was born in Poland in 1910 and came to Palestine in 1930 at the age of 20. He was a member of the Haganah command from 1933-1939 and served with Allied forces during World War II. He was captured by the Germans and spent four years in a POW camp. He returned to Palestine in 1945 and became secretary of the Haifa Labor Council and later Secretary General of Mapai and a member of the Histadrut Executive.

Almogi was appointed to the Cabinet in 1961 and served as Minister of Development and Housing and as Minister of Labor. He held the latter port-folio when he resigned from government in 1974 to stand for election as Mayor of Haifa. He is married and has two sons, one of them an executive of the Zim Lines container service.

ASSUMES A HEAVY YOKE

Almogi’s political base has always been in Haifa, a Labor Party stronghold. Several of his Haifa colleagues were on hand at the Jerusalem convention hall to witness his election to the WZO chairmanship by the Zionist General Council. They included Moshe Wertman, now Knesset coalition chairman; Moshe Shahal, a young Labor MK; and A gami who is described as Almogi’s right-hand man in the Haifa branch of the party.

At a midnight Labor caucus in the convention hall, Almogi’s friends and supporters drank toasts to the new chairman and to his most powerful backer, Premier Yitzhak Rabin. Toasting Almogi, Rabin urged him to remember “on this happy night” that he was assuming “a heavy yoke.” Do as you have done throughout your life: infusing new momentum, renewing, building,” the Premier said, observing that the Zionist movement must serve as “a bridge and a link” in these “difficult days between Israel and the diaspora.”

Responding, Almogi said he welcomed the task and was conscious of its difficulty. He said he was eager for the challenge it presented which he considered the toughest challenge a Jewish public figure could undertake at a time when Zionism was under assault.

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