Likud to take revenge against Jewish Agency for Herzog election

A senior Likud MK said that his party would take revenge against the Jewish Agency for electing a member of Israel’s opposition as chairman, contrary to accepted practice. 

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Likud will take revenge against the Jewish Agency for passing over its candidate for chairman, coalition head David Amsalem told Israel Radio Sunday.

Amsalem said the Likud party is angry that the Jewish Agency’s board of governors elected Isaac Herzog of the opposition Zionist Union (ZU) as its new chairman and that the organization will soon feel the government’s displeasure in concrete ways.

Amsalem said various measures are being considered that will hit the Agency in its pocket, according to Israel Radio.

One idea is to cut the organization’s budget – a third of which comes from State coffers. Another is to cancel the Agency’s special exemption from having to publish tenders for its contracts to third parties, as all other government agencies must do.

“There’s an agreement between all the parties in the Knesset regarding the national institutions, according to which the Likud is supposed to nominate the head of the Jewish Agency,” Amsalem explained.

He called the move a throwback to the politics of the Mapai Party (the forerunner of the Labor Party, which is the main faction of the ZU).

“What they should have done is tell them, ‘Sorry, this isn’t ours, please go to the Likud,’” he said, adding that the ZU has “stolen” the job from the Likud, and that it was pure effrontery on Herzog’s part to take it. “And he has such a clean reputation,” Amsalem scoffed.

The fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has known for a long time that Natan Sharansky was due to step down at the end of July after nine years but had not yet announced his candidate is irrelevant, according to Amsalem.

The delay was partly due to the fact that his ostensibly favorite choice, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz, was admittedly dithering about the job.

“Believe me, we have plenty of worthy candidates,” Amsalem insisted – and the board of governors should have waited until Netanyahu had made his choice.

“This is why I hate politics,” said the coalition head bitterly. “Nobody’s word is worth anything, there’s no honor, nothing – just grab as much as you can.”