World Zionist Congress
The World Zionist Congress (Hebrew: הקונגרס הציוני העולמי HaKongres HaTsioni HaOlami) elects the officers and decides on the policies of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. Any Jew over age 18 who belongs to a Zionist association is eligible to vote, and the number of delegates to the Congress is capped at 500.
From 1897 to 1901, the Zionist Congress met every year (see the First Zionist Congress), then every second year from 1903 to 1913 and 1921 to 1939. Until 1946, the Congress was held every two years in various European cities, save for interruptions during the two World Wars. Their goal was to build an infrastructure to further the cause of Jewish settlement in Palestine. Since the Second World War, meetings have been held approximately every four years. Also, since the creation of the State of Israel, the Congress has met every four or five years in Jerusalem. The 35th World Zionist Congress was held in June 2006, where Zeev Bielski of Kadima was elected WZO Chairman.
The most recent Congress was held in June 2010 in Jerusalem and Avraham Duvdevani from the modern-Orthodox “Mizrahi” camp was elected as Chair. Natan Sharansky was elected as head of the Jewish Agency for Israel which was separated again from the position of WZO Chair.
Participants in the World Zionist Congress are free to form Brit Olamit (ideological groupings), which are somewhat like political parties. While Israeli political parties can participate in the Congress, brits are also organized and voted into the Congress by non-Israelis, making the Congress a multinational deliberative body for the Jewish diaspora. However, as aliyah has brought Jews to Israel from other countries, Israeli representation in the legislature has increased at the expense of non-Israeli Jewish diaspora representation. A Brit Olamit must have representation in at least five countries to send a delegation to the Congress.
The largest faction in the World Zionist Congress as of 2008 was a coalition of MERCAZ (representing Conservative Judaism), Kadima, the Green Zionist Alliance, Labor-Meretz, and ARZA (representing Reform Judaism).
Other parties include:
- Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which is endorsed by the heads of the Jewish Agency, World Likud, AFSI, JCCWatch.com, APT, Stand With Us and One Israel Fund
- Tnuat Hamercaz Haliberalit—HaNoar HaTzioni
- The World Confederation of United Zionists, which in the United States is a federation of Hadassah, the American Jewish League and Bnai Zion
- Herut Party
- World Likud—Shas
- World Union Yisrael Beytenu-Moledet-Tkuma
- "Rules for the Election of Delegates to the Zionist Congress" (Microsoft Word doc). World Zionist Organization. June 2004 . Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "The Zionist Century | Concepts | Zionist Congresses". Jafi.org.il. Retrieved 2008-11-29.[dead link]
- http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=world+zionist+congress&itemNo=728815[dead link]
- http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=178563 Jerusalem Post: WZO gets 1st religious-Zionist chairman