JERUSALEM (Aug. 25)
Israel’s police have wrapped up their investigation of Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz and reportedly have recommended that he be indicted for financial wrongdoings.
Police officials would not disclose their recommendation about an indictment, which in any case is not binding on state prosecutors. But both Israel Radio and Israel Television reported that the police had found grounds to press legal charges against Dinitz for using Jewish Agency funds for personal purposes.
Such a recommendation would put added pressure on Dinitz to step down from his post.
Some leaders of Jewish philanthropic organizations in North America have been urging Dinitz to step aside until the case against him is concluded. They say the scandal has hurt Diaspora fund raising for Israel.
But Dinitz has repeatedly denied that the affair has had an adverse impact on the fundraising campaign for the Jewish Agency, which is the primary recipient of United Jewish Appeal funds raised for Israel.
When asked by Israel Television whether the outcome of the police investigation would harm the work of the Jewish Agency, its treasurer, Hanan Ben Yehuda, said, “It’s not going to make things easier.”
But when asked whether Dinitz should step down or take a leave of absence, Ben Yehuda said it is up to Dinitz himself.
“I think we are living in a democratic environment and society and country,” said the treasurer. He added that the Jewish Agency should pursue the appropriate legal process and conclude afterward the proper course of action.
POLITICIANS BACKING DINITZ
This position is echoed by the Zionists and Israeli politicians who are supporting Dinitz, who also chairs the World Zionist Organization.
It is at odds, however, with the position taken by many leaders of the Diaspora fundraising organizations. A special committee appointed by the Jewish Agency Board of Governors to monitor the impact of the affair on fundraising efforts is due to make a recommendation by the end of this month as to a course of action regarding Dinitz’s future.
The Jewish Agency’s executive committee is scheduled to discuss the advisory committee’s recommendation at an Aug. 31 session, and some expect the meeting to result in a vote of no confidence in Dinitz.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has written the advisory committee, asking that no action be taken concerning Dinitz until the state attorney decides whether to prosecute him.
A similar letter was sent by 15 prominent Labor Party members of Knesset to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It stressed that Dinitz was democratically elected to his post.
The signers included Labor Party Secretary Nissim Zvili, Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Gur and Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin.