Likud Attempts to Block Labor from Making Deal on WZO Posts

Likud is working strenuously to nullify an agreement worked out last week between the Labor Party and several major American constituents of the World Zionist Organization that would kill Likud’s chances of electing a candidate to either of the two top WZO posts at the World Zionist Congress here in December.

The agreement assures that Labor candidate Akiva Lewinsky, presently the WZO treasurer, will be elected chairman of the WZO and Jewish Agency executives, succeeding Likud-Liberal Leon (Arye) Dulzin.

In return for their support of Lewinsky, the office of WZO treasurer will go the Confederation of United Zionists, of which Hadassah is the largest component. Other top portfolios are slated for the Association of Reform Zionists of America and the Conservative Zionist organization, Mercaz.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Labor, the Confederation, ARZA and Mercaz together control 320 of the 535 delegates to the forthcoming Zionist Congress.

Likud’s main argument against the deal is that it is inconceivable that one of the two largest political parties in Israel will be frozen out of both of the highest WZO posts, chairman and treasurer. Likud believes, however, that Labor’s new coalition with the American Zionists is on shaky ground and could be unravelled.

That opinion was expressed by Gideon Patt, a member of the Liberal wing of the Likud bloc whose name is the only one mentioned so far to challenge Lewinsky for the WZO chairmanship.

Patt, who is science and technology minister in the Cabinet, has not officially announced his candidacy for the WZO post. He met for consultations Monday with Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Knesset member Moshe Arens, both of Likud’s Herut wing, to assess the situation.

So far, Likud has not been able to persuade the American factions to abandon their pact with Labor. Mattityahu Drobles, the Herut faction leader in the WZO, warned last weekend that the agreement threatens the very existence of the Zionist movement.

Drobles, who has been mentioned for the post of WZO treasurer, said if Labor does not agree to share the two top offices with Likud, “this will undermine all other aspects of our partnership in the Zionist movement.”

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