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Zionist Congress Approves Text of Jewish Agency Constitution

August 9, 1929
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The text of the Jewish Agency constitution as amended by the Congress committee and by the plenary session reads as follows:

Article One-Definitions used in the agreement.

Mandate means the Palestine mandate as accepted by Great Britain and confirmed by the League of Nations.

“Agency” means the enlarged Jewish Agency.

“Zionist” means a person associated with the Jewish Agency as the representative of the Zionist Organization.

“Non-Zionist” means a representative on the Jewish Agency otherwise than from the Zionist Organization.

Article Two-The title of the Agency shall be the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

Article Three-The object of the Agency will be to discharge the functions of the Jewish Agency in such manner as shall conduce to the realization of the following aims which are recognized as fundamental:

1. To encourage and further Jewish immigration to Palestine to the fullest extent practicable by according favorable consideration to immigrant workers as well as immigrants of independent means;

2. To foster the Hebrew Language and Jewish culture;

3. Land shall be acquired as Jewish property, whereby the titles to the lands shall be acquired in the name of the Jewish National Fund in order that the land remain the inalienable property of the Jewish people;

4. The Agency shall promote agricultural colonization based on Jewish labor and in all work and undertakings carried out or furthered by the Agency, Jewish labor shall be employed.

So long as the requirements of economic efficiency are fulfilled, the social form of the settlers shall be considered as a matter for the settlers to decide, provided that to the judgment of the Jewish Agency shall be left to determine the economic soundness and practicability of any proposed colonization plan before appropriating funds within its control for any particular settlement.

Article Four-The organs of the Agency shall be a Council, an Administrative Committee and an Executive.

The president of the Agency shall be the president of the Zionist Organization unless otherwise decided by an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the Council’s members.

(These four articles were adopted by an overwhelming majority vote. Point 4 of Article three was amended, by the demand of the Radical Zionists and Histadruth labor party, to read: “that in all works and undertakings carried out or supported by the Jewish Agency, the principle of Jewish labor shall apply.”)

Article Five-1. The Council of the Jewish Agency shall be the Agency’s supreme governing body and final authority in all matters within the Agency’s jurisdiction, laying down the guiding principles of policy.

2. The Council shall be composed in one-half of representatives of the Zionist Organization and in the other half of representatives of non-Zionists of various countries, according to a prepared schedule.

3. The Zionist Organization shall appoint its representatives according to its own constitutional practice. The non-Zionists shall appoint their representatives in such manner and for such terms as best suit local conditions, recognizing as a guiding principle that the method of appointment, so far as practical, shall be of a democratic character.

4. The board of directors of the Keren Hayesod and of the Jewish National Fund and also other bodies, according to the Council’s determination, shall be invited to send representatives to the Council’s meetings, but without voting power. 5. The Executive shall convene ordinary meetings of the Council not less than once biennially, when the Executive shall report fully on the Agency’s activities and the conditions in Palestine. The Executive shall also submit a detailed statement of the Agency’s financial position.

6. In case of an emergency the Executive, with the approval of the Administrative Committee, may at any time convene an extraordinary meeting of the Council or, if so directed by the Administrative Committee.

7. The Council shall appoint a chairman or joint chairmen. It may also an associate chairman and vice-chairmen.

8. The chairmen of the Council shall be entitled to vote but without additional or casting vote in the event of equality votes.

AMENDMENT REQUIRES NEW ELECTIONS FOR EACH BIENNIAL COUNCIL

(An important amendment was enacted by the Zionist Congress when a majority voted for the proposal introduced by Dr. Nahum Goldman, Radical Zionist, to include in point 3 of Article Five the words, “for such terms,” Dr. Soloweitchik arguing in favor of this amendment stated that if the terms of the members of the Jewish Agency Council is unlimited a class of “notables” will be created. The sense of the amendment was that members of the Council must be newly elected for

every ordinary meeting of the Council.)

Article Six-1. The Administrative Committee is to consist of 40 members, including 20 Zionists and 20 non-Zionists, who are members of the Council, it being understood that the Administrative Committee be regarded as forming a single whole with joint responsibility to the Council.

Members of the Executive are entitled to attend the meetings of the Administrative Committee without voting power.

2. The Keren Hayesod and the Jewish National Fund shall send their representatives to the meetings of the Administrative Committee without voting power.

3. The Administrative Committee shall appoint a chairman. It may also appoint an associate chairman.

4. The Administrative Committee shall meet in order to receive and consider the reports of the Executive and to decide on questions of policy, to exercise general authority and to supervise the Agency’s activities in the conduct of the affairs. Whenever action has been taken by the Council, the same shall be binding for the Administrative Committee except if the Council has conferred upon the Administrative Committee discretionary powers. If such authority has been conferred, the Administrative Committee may vary or depart from the Council’s decisions provided that the following conditions are satisfied.

a. A proposal to vary or depart from the Council’s decision shall not be considered by the Administrative Committee unless the Committee has decided by a three-fourths vote that unforeseen circumstances made it impossible or undesirable to give effect to the Council’s decision.

b. Such proposals are required to be carried by a three-fourths vote.

5. So far as circumstances permit, the Administrative Committee is to meet once in six months, the chairman fixing the time and place in consultation with the president of the Agency or at the request of the president, or at the request of one-third of the members of the Administrative Committee.

Article Seven-1. The Executive shall conduct the Agency’s current business in accordance with the Agency’s constitution and the directions of the Council and the Administrative Committee.

2. The Council shall appoint at its first meeting an Executive consisting of not more than the number of members who hold office, until the next ordinary meeting of the Council. Of persons so appointed, one-half shall be nominated by the Zionist Organization and the remaining half by the non-Zionist members of the Council. The Council at its first meeting shall prescribe the manner in which the Executive is thereafter to be appointed, which will then form a part of this Article. The Executive is to be regarded as forming a single whole with collective responsibility to the Council.

The Executive vacancies occurring between meetings of the Council shall be filled by the Administrative Committee.

3. The executive offices of the Jewish Agency shall be in Jerusalem. It shall also maintain an office in London under the direction of the president of the Agency in conjunction with members of the Executive designated by the Council, who shall be especially charged with the conduct of the business between the Mandatory and the Agency.

4. The Executive of the Agency, while ordinarily meeting in Jerusalem or in London, shall be at liberty, in exceptional circumstances, to meet at other places which the majority of the Executive prefers.

AMENDMENTS ON EXECUTIVE COMPOSITION

(The amendments to paragraph 2 of Article 7, adopted by a majority vote, read as follows: “The Council shall at its first meeting appoint an Executive of not more than the members who hold office until the next ordinary meeting of the Council. Of persons so appointed, not more than one-half shall be persons nominated by the non-Zionist members of the Council and the remainder to be nominated by the Zionist Organization.

(“The Executive is to be regarded as forming a single whole, with collective responsibility to the Council. Vacancies in the Executive occurring between two meetings of the Council shall be filled by the Administrative Committee out of parties affected from time to time.”)

PROXY SYSTEM RETAINED FOLLOWING STORMY DEBATE

Article Eight-Representation of absent members. For every member, either Zionist or non-Zionist, of the Council or of the Administrative Committee, the body appointing him shall be entitled to appoint not more than three deputies who hold office during the same period as the members.

2. Any member, not personally present at the meetings of the Council or the Administrative Committee, shall be entitled to be represented by any person, whether or not a resident of the same country, who figures amongst the deputies.

If a member who resides in another continent from that where the meeting is held, he shall be entitled to give written authority to another member to vote in his behalf, provided that no one shall be entitled to cast more than four votes, including his own, at the meetings of the Council or more than two votes, including his own, at the meetings of the Administrative (Continued on Page 7)

Committee. For this purpose Palestine shall be regarded as a part of Europe.

AMENDMENT TO ELIMINATE PROXIES DEFEATED

(An amendment introduced by Dr. Max Soloweitchik, Berlin, Radical Zionist, to eliminate the proxy system, was defeated by a majority vote after stormy scenes. Dr. Georg Halpern replied to Soloweitchik’s arguments that the Zionist General Council approved of this provision at the Berlin session and that the American non-Zionists had elected delegates on the basis of this principle. It would therefore be unfair to change the article now, he said. Revisionist and Hitachduth delegates were in acriminious argument among themselves, the former reproaching the latter for voting against Dr. Soloweitchik’s amendment.)

KEREN HAYESOD TO BE FINANCIAL INSTRUMENT OF AGENCY

Article Nine-1. Unless the Council otherwise determines, the Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund) is to be the main financial instrument of the Agency for the purpose of covering its budget.

2. The Zionist Organization undertakes that from the date when this agreement comes into force:

a. The power of appointing directors of the Keren Hayesod conferred upon the Zionist Executive by the articles of association of this Fund shall be exercised in accordance with the Council’s directions and on the understanding that the board of directors of the Keren Hayesod shall be responsible to the Council.

b. The board of directors shall place the whole net proceedings of the Keren Hayesod at the Agency’s disposal, the latter to make due provision for the discharge of the liabilities existing before the agreements were concluded.

Article Ten-1. Nothing in this agreement shall affect the organization or the statutes of the Jewish National Fund, its relations with the Zionist Organization or its right of appeal to the Jewish public for financial support after due consultation with the Agency.

2. All lands acquired with funds derived from the Agency shall be purchased under the direction of the Agency through the medium of the Jewish National Fund and title to the land shall be in the name of the Jewish National Fund provided that the persons or institutions to whom the land is leased are first approved by the Agency. The purchase of land with private funds shall not be discouraged so long as such lands are not acquired for speculative purposes or plans hostile to the Jewish National Home or the Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency is further entitled to participate in and facilitate the purchase of land in Palestine by private individuals.

AMENDMENT TO NATIONAL FUND CLAUSE APPROVED

(This paragraph was amended following explanations offered by M. M. Ussishkin and Kurt Blumenfeld. The Congress then added the following paragraph, adopted by a vote of 129 to 71:

(“No sale of land may be transacted on the basis of credit with persons who are settled by institutions or the Agency, or who request credit from Jewish funds for upbuilding their settlements, because such persons can obtain land from the Jewish National Fund on an hereditary lease.”)

MORE COUNTRIES TO BE REPRESENTED

Article Eleven states that the Council is permitted to add to the list of non-Zionist representatives such countries as are yet unrepresented for whom three seats have been reserved under the schedule. 2. The Council is entitled to investigate the representative character of persons purporting to act in behalf of non-Zionists of any country.

TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY FOR DISSOLUTION REQUIRED

Article Twelve-1. The enlarged Jewish Agency constituted by this agreement may be dissolved by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the entire Council membership. Three months’ notice must be given to the members before the Council’s dissolution meeting takes place.

2. Any party other than the Zionist Organization may give notice to the president of the Agency of its intention to withdraw from the agreement, such notice to become operative after one year.

3. Non-Zionists failing to be present or to be represented by deputies at meetings of the Council lose their right of representation on the Council.

4. In the event of the withdrawal of non-Zionists numbering not less than one-third of the total number of Zionists on the Council, the Zionist Organization may give notice of its withdrawal when the enlarged Jewish Agency may be dissolved, but it shall be the president’s duty to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Council for this purpose.

AMENDMENTS BY TWO-THIRDS, ARTICLE 4 BY THREE-FOURTHS

Article Thirteen-This agreement, except Article 4, may be amended at the first meeting of the Council by a two-thirds vote. Amendments to Article 4 require a three-fourths vote and will not be considered unless three months’ notice is given.

Article Fourteen-The Council’s first meeting shall decide the following matters: 1. The period of notice required for meetings; 2. the quorum required for meetings, and the rules of procedure governing the meetings; 3. the methods of appointment, term of office, the functions of the chairmen and vice-chairmen; also the manner in which interim vacancies in these offices shall be filled.

Article Fifteen-This agreement shall come to into force from the date of signature. A copy shall be forthwith forwarded to the Mandatory Power with the request to recognize the enlarged Agency as the Jewish Agency referred to in the Palestine Mandate. The Mandatory will also be requested to give assurance that in the event of the dissolution of the enlarged Agency the Zionist Organization shall have the same status as it had before the enlarged Agency.

NUMBER OF NON-ZIONIST REPRESENTATIVES FROM POLAND INCREASED TO 14

(Articles Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen, as well as a table setting forth the number of mandates allotted to the various countries on the Council of the Jewish Agency, were adopted by an overwhelming majority. The table was amended only insofar as the mandates for Poland were concerned, allocating 14 non-Zionist mandates to Poland instead of the 7 previously alloted.

WANT TERM ERETZ ISRAEL INSTEAD OF PALESTINE

(The Congress also adopted a resolution instructing the Zionist Executive to change the text of the constitution by substituting the term “Eretz Israel” for “Palestine,” each time the word Palestine appears in the text.

(The preamble to the constitution as well as the conditions which are to govern the signature of the agreement before it comes into force are to be voted upon at a subsequent session of the Congress.)

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