After a series of tense meetings, the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors approved a framework for slashing $500 million from the Agency’s budget during the next five years.
The dramatic plan adopted Sunday is designed to revamp the ailing social services and education organization, and save it from a collision course with projected deficits of $689 million by the year 2000.
The first cuts of $110 million – $43 million from the Aliyah and Absorption budget – will be implemented during the next two years.
Diaspora representatives at the meeting pledged to raise an additional $230 million in the next five years.
The Agency is the primary recipient of United Jewish Appeal funds targeted for overseas that are raised by local federations.
The most acrimonious issue still to be resolved, according to Agency sources, is the future of the agency’s commitment to its Youth Aliyah Villages.
Although the Youth Aliyah Villages are traditionally one of the Agency’s highest-funded education and social welfare programs, some believe that the government should assume most of the responsibility for them because most who attend them are veteran Israelis, not new immigrants.