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Official with Israel fund-raiser resigns amid several allegations

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JERUSALEM, Nov. 22 (JTA) – The director general of one of the main fund- raising arms for the Jewish Agency for Israel has stepped down in the wake of corruption allegations against him. Baruch Gur resigned from Keren Hayesod after a recent article in the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot alleged that he had committed a number of improprieties since his appointment to the position a year and a half ago. The allegations include abuse of power and privileges amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. Keren Hayesod raises funds for the Jewish Agency outside the United States. Its functions are equivalent to those filled within the United States by the United Jewish Appeal and United Israel Appeal. The allegations against Gur include his paying for leisure expenses with a credit card issued for business purposes; having the organization pay for his wife when she accompanied him abroad; running a bill of some $13,000 at a Jerusalem hotel over a period of six months even though he owns an apartment in central Israel; and renting, contrary to procedure, a luxury car that was later purchased for him. Yediot also reported that Gur appointed personal associates to positions without seeking other applicants. In the wake of the allegations contained in the newspaper report, Keren Hayesod ordered an internal inquiry, calling on the Jewish Agency’s comptroller and legal adviser to investigate. These developments prompted Gur to submit his resignation, which was accepted by the organization Nov. 17. “As we expect the highest standard of behavior from both ourselves and Keren Hayesod employees, we have accepted Dr. Gur’s resignation, so that there be no misconception about our tolerating any possible deviation from the ethical norms of behavior required in our organization,” Avi Pazner, World Chairman of Keren Hayesod, and David Liwernat, chairman of the organization’s board of trustees, said in a letter issued last week. Gur said in a statement that despite the personal pain the investigation caused himself and his family, he had decided to put the interests of Keren Hayesod before his own. He stressed that his decision did not represent an admission of guilt to any of the offenses.

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