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Stiff Fight Looms over Wzo, Jewish Agency Chairmanship

May 2, 1974
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The contest for the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives is taking on added interest here as it becomes increasingly evident that the Labor Party intends to put up a stiff fight to retain the dual post. The chairman, succeeding the late Louis Pincus, will be chosen by the Jewish Agency General Assembly when it convenes here in June.

Up to now, acting chairman Leon Dulzin seemed to many almost certain of election in view of his wide experience, his creditable performance since Pincus’ death and his popularity among Jewish Agency people. But Dulzin belongs to the Likud and the Labor Party seems determined to prevent the most prestigious and important non-governmental post from falling into opposition hands.

It could easily do this, observers say, if Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir agrees to become a candidate for the Jewish Agency-WZO chairmanship. Sources close to Sapir have said he is amenable but the present political situation makes it difficult to predict how the Labor Party “strong man” will act.


Another name mentioned for the Jewish Agency-WZO post is Foreign Minister Abba Eban, whose participation in the next government is doubtful. Relations between Eban and the new party leader, Yitzhak Rabin are reportedly strained. Eban would have difficulty serving in a Rabin government and it is unlikely that Rabin would ask him. Leadership of the Jewish Agency and the WZO would seem to be the only job available matching the Foreign Minister’s talents and international stature.

Dulzin, who officially declared his candidacy some time ago, made it clear that he would not permit the Labor Party to dictate the Jewish Agency’s choice. At that time, however, his only serious rival was Hebrew University president Avraham Harman who had the active support of Premier Golda Meir. Since Mrs. Meir’s resignation, Harman’s candidacy faded and the field seemed clear for Dulzin. But faced with a challenge by Sapir, Dulzin may withdraw his candidacy, according to some observers.

Another possibility, according to observers, is a compromise whereby the Jewish Agency and WZO chairmanships would be separated for the first time. In such an event, Dulzin would head the Jewish Agency and a Labor Party choice would be installed as chairman of the WZO. But it is not clear yet whether Dulzin intends to make such a proposal or whether the Labor Party would agree.

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