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Dinitz Re-elected WZO Chair, Handily Defeating Hirsch

The 32nd Zionist Congress re-elected Simcha Dinitz as chairman of the World Zionist Organization on Monday. Dinitz, of the Labor Zionist movement, received 382 votes against the 101 cast for his opponent, Rabbi Richard Hirsch of the Reform Zionist movement.

The secret ballot vote followed a long day of behind-the-scenes negotiations between Labor and the Reform movement. Labor sought for Hirsch to withdraw his candidacy and lead his movement into a wall-to-wall coalition with the other parties in the WZO. These efforts, however, ended in an impasse.

Nonetheless, well-placed sources predict that a wall-to-wall coalition will eventually be set up, embracing the Reform movement — represented at the Congress primarily by the Association of Reform Zionists of America — and its allies.

Hirsch only received some 30-odd votes from delegates outside his own camp, which included his own movement and Ratz and Shinui, both components of the left-wing Meretz bloc in the Knesset. Observers pointed to this as an indifferent showing for Hirsch.

In all, 495 ballots were cast, representing 85 percent of the 585 eligible votes.

Dinitz, a former Knesset member and ambassador to Washington, thanked the delegates and said he would strive to represent the diversity of opinion and ideas within the Zionist movement.

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