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Vote on KKL W.Bank land purchases postponed after Right loses majority

CM 22/04/2021

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 At the last moment, a controversial vote in the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael board of directors scheduled for Thursday over whether or not to authorize land purchases in the West Bank by the organization was called off by chairman Avraham Duvdevani. 

Left-wing and centrist representatives in KKL have vigorously opposed the use of the organization’s funds for buying land to expand settlements in Judea and Samaria, arguing that the issue is one of great dispute within the Jewish world and that KKL funds, a significant portion of which come from Diaspora donations, should not be used for such a contentious purpose. 
Two preliminary votes on the resolution in February and earlier this month were successfully passed with the narrow advantage enjoyed by the right-wing and religious factions in KKL. 
The left and centrist groups lobbied intensely however to stall the vote, including reaching out to major Jewish organizations in the US, including Hadassah, WIZO, Maccabi Olami, B’nei B’rith and Naamat USA. 
Sources within the Masorti Movement told The Jerusalem Post that these organizations “understood how this would politicize one of the national institutions in a way that would harm the core interests of the Jewish people,” and said that “out of a sense of caution and responsibility” they demanded the vote be postponed. 
Officials from these organizations reportedly contacted Duvdevani and others and urged that the vote be suspended. 

Duvdevani sent a message to board members just before noon on Thursday saying that “because of contacts made [with me] by members of the board [and] a number of organizations and movements, and some KKL offices around the world who wish to discuss the matter deeper and examine their position more foundationally, I decided to listen to the requests and postpone the scheduled board meeting.”
There are 37 members on the board, 15 of whom filed a legal petition earlier this week against any land purchases in the West Bank by KKL. 
Board members from the above mentioned organizations expressed an inclination to abstain, and then on Thursday morning David Yaari, the chairman of the World Confederation of United Zionists, a WZO faction with representation in KKL, published an op-ed in the Post stating his opposition to the timing of the vote and aspects of the resolution itself. 
Back in February, Yaari voted in favor of the resolution which narrowly passed, arguing that KKL should be able to buy land in the settlement blocs which, it is widely considered, will always be part of the State of Israel. 
Without the votes of the World Confederation of United Zionists there was no majority for the resolution, and the Post understands that Yaari made clear to Duvdevani that he would vote against the resolution this time. 
“We need to engage global Jewish communities and factor them in to come to a greater consensus,” Yaari told the Post
“We won’t ever get 100% consensus, but we shouldn’t pass resolutions of this magnitude by just one vote or with narrow majorities, and I commend the chairman for suspending the vote,” he added. 
“The KKL was set up by the Jewish people, it serves the Jewish people, and should represent and reflect as broader consensus as possible. The leadership of KKL should be credited for deciding to engage with the Jewish people and it has handled this situation in the right way.”
MK and Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Labor Party who was heavily involved in lobbying against the resolution, noted following the suspension of the vote that KKL enjoys special status and independence of action in Israel based on Knesset legislation, and that to maintain that status it needs the support of all Zionist parties in the Knesset and WZO. 
“The KKL cannot expect support from center and left-wing Zionist parties if it becomes the long arm of settlement movement, and similarly right-wing parties wouldn’t support KKL if it became a branch of Peach Now,” said Kariv. 
“If the KKL leadership wants to maintain the support of the entire Zionist political spectrum, they need to work in areas which enjoy consensus,” he added. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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