NEW YORK (Nov. 4)
Unless the Zionist general counsel chooses to act upon a suggestion made last week by the president judge of the Zionist Supreme Court, the results of this spring’s World Zionist Congress elections will stand when the congress meets in Jerusalem in December.
The elections determine the number of delegates each of several competing Zionist slates will be allowed to send to the December congress. This year, five of those slates went before the Supreme Court of the World Zionist Organization to appeal the procedures used by the Area Election Committee of the American Zionist Federation to distribute the congress mandates.
In a ruling issued last Friday, Justice Moshe Etzioni rejected appeals brought by three of the Zionist organizations, who claimed they were entitled to larger shares of representation at the Zionist congress.
But in an apparent good-faith move, Etzioni also suggested that eight unassigned mandates, usually held in reserve by the WZO, be distributed between two of the appealing organizations, the Religious Zionists of America and Americans for a Progressive Israel. The third group, the Students for Israel, was reportedly not included because of flagrant election irregularities.
According to Karen Rubinstein, director of the AZF, it would take a constitutional amendment by the Vad Hapoel, or Zionist General Counsel, to make those eight mandates available to Zionist organizations in the United States. Traditionally, so-called “floating” mandates have been distributed only to Zionist organizations outside of the United States.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Etzioni called his suggestion “a more peaceful way to settle differences.” Etzioni called the ultimate decision of whether or not to make the additional mandates available “a question of politics now, not law.”
Etzioni also clarified the court’s decision to accept the appeals of two other organizations, the Zionist Organization of America and Bnai Zion, who claimed that they had been short-changed by an AEC review process that was used to verify voter registration.
AEC officials agreed that mistakes were made in determining voter eligibility of the two groups, said Etzioni. But his decision to accept their appeals will have no effect on the number of ZOA and Bnai Zion delegates, because any subsequent adjustment could only be measured in fractions.