World Zionist Congress

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The World Zionist Congress (Hebrew: הקונגרס הציוני העולמיHaKongres 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 elected delegates to the Congress is 500.[1][2] 38% of the delegates are allocated to Israel, 29% to the United States of America, and 33% to the remainder of the countries of the Diaspora.[3] In addition there are about 100 delegates which are appointed by International Organizations (e.g. B’nai B’rith, see below) affiliated with WZO.[2]

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.[4] The 35th World Zionist Congress was held in June 2006,[5] 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.[6] Natan Sharansky was elected as head of the Jewish Agency for Israel which was separated again from the position of WZO Chair.[6]

The upcoming World Zionist Congress will take place in 2015.

Representatives at the World Zionist Congress[edit]

The World Zionist Congress includes representatives of Zionist World Unions, Women's Zionist Organizations with Special Status and International Jewish Organizations.[3]

Zionist World Unions[edit]

Zionist participants in the World Zionist Congress are free to form Brit Olamit or Zionist World Unions (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 (World Union) must have representation in at least five countries to send a delegation to the Congress.

There are currently five Zionist World Unions (with full voting rights):

Zionist Organizations with Special Status[edit]

Two women's organizations have special status in the Zionist Organization and have full voting rights:

  • WIZO - is an international, non-party Zionist body, which receives global representation by virtue of an agreement entered into in 1964.
  • Hadassah – received special status by virtue of a decision of the Zionist General Council, in 1994.[3] (duplicate?)

International Jewish Organizations[edit]

The international Jewish organizations have also been represented in the Zionist Congress since 1972, provided that they accept the Jerusalem Program,[7] even if not all their members are declared Zionists. These bodies have limited voting rights - they do not vote on matters of candidature and elections to the institutions of the WZO.[3]

The following are the International Jewish Organizations (limited voting rights):

Other Participants in Congress (Advisors, Observers)[edit]

  • In addition to the delegates with full voting rights participating in Congress, there are also participants in an advisory capacity which can participate in debates but have no voting rights. These may consist of office holders such as members of the Zionist Executive, members of the Zionist General Council who were not elected as delegates to Congress, Chairs of the Zionist Federations, judicial office holders - the President of the Zionist Supreme Court, the Attorney, the Comptroller and representatives of the Aliyah Movement.[3]
  • Observers with no speaking or voting rights can be invited by the Zionist Executive or the Congress Presidium.

The Course of the Congress[edit]

The Zionist Congress is conducted by the Congress Presidium. Congress deliberations are divided into five stages:[3]

  • Opening of the Congress, including a speech by the Chairman of the Executive, and other speeches determined in the agenda, election of the Congress Presidium, the report of the President of the Zionist Supreme Court on the election results, reports of the members of the Zionist Executive in supplement to the printed report, election of the Congress committees.
  • Election of the new Executive, according to the proposal of the Congress Standing Committee.
  • Meetings of the committees.
  • Reports of the committees and voting on the draft resolutions presented by them. The report of the Standing Committee and voting on its proposals for members of the Zionist General Council, the Comptroller and the Legal Institutions.
  • Congress closing ceremony.

2015 Unites States Elections for World Zionist Congress[edit]

The United States will send 145 delegates to the 2015 Congress with 11 slates (including two newly-qualified) competing in elections held during January 13 through April 30, 2015.[8][9]

The US slates (parties) include:

See also[edit]