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IFCJ suspends Jewish Agency payments

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A Jewish-Christian group suspended its monthly $1.5 million payments to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews suspended its May 1 payment on a $45 million charitable commitment it made to the agency this winter.The IFCJ’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, told JTA in an interview Wednesday that the payment was suspended because the Jewish Agency had not yet fulfilled its end of the partnership,

The Jewish Agency forged a “strategic partnership” in December with the IFCJ, which depends primarily on conservative Christian donors to raise tens of millions of dollars per year to help Israel and impoverished Jews in the Diaspora.

Under the deal, the fellowship agreed to give the Jewish Agency $15 million annually for the next three years to help cover its core budget, with most of the money going for immigration and absorption programs. In exchange, Eckstein was given a seat on the Jewish Agency’s highest governing committee.

Eckstein said the agency has not lived up to its commitment to become a “strategic partner” with the IFCJ. A key issue, he said, is that Jewish Agency stationary still only lists the organization’s historic partners, the United Jewish Communities and Keren Hayesod, but fails to mention IFCJ.

He said he was hopeful the two organizations could reach an agreement before the Jewish Agency’s board of governors meetings in late June that would allow them to continue the partnership. Eckstein said that If the two organizations do not reach an agreement by then, the IFCJ would terminate the strategic partnership and give the agency about $7 million less per year.

The agency in a statement said it remains “fully committed” to the agreement.

“The Jewish Agency and the Fellowship have had a long, positive and fruitful relationship,” the agency said. “If issues of concern were to arise, we would adhere to our regular practice of communicating directly with our donors.”

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