Labor Committee Approves Nomination of Burg for Agency

The Labor Party Central Committee has approved the nomination of Avraham Burg as its candidate for the Jewish Agency chairmanship amid calls to revise the selection process.

Burg was the sole candidate after the Jewish Agency’s “advise and consent” committee endorsed him over Yehiel Leket, acting chairman. Leket subsequently withdrew his candidacy, leaving the Central Committee with a choice of one.

This brought angry calls from party members, who accused the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors of abusing its right to veto candidates and essentially forcing its choice on the party.

Leket backers had threatened to disrupt Thursday’s meeting at Beit Berl in Kfar Saba with a proposal to put off the vote, but a compromise was reached. When the vote came, a majority of hands went up for Burg.

At the same time, many speakers called for a re-evaluation of the selection process. Leket called the process. Leket called the process “anachronistic” while Labor Party Secretary-General Nissim Zvilli said the committee would hold a separate discussion on the matter.

Before the vote, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who himself had backed Leket, criticized the agreement but urged members to honor it.

Burg took a diplomatic stand, saying that the attack on the Board of Governors was unfair. At the same time, he said, the issue of how candidates are chosen would be a subject for “the day after”.

Burg is due to take up duties as acting chairman next week.

The actual appointment is made by the World Zionist Organization, which elects the candidate nominated by the Labor Party committee.

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