JNF-KKL appoints Ifat Ovadia-Luski as first-ever woman to chair organization

Former CEO of World Likud will replace current head Avraham Duvdevani at end of month; Likud MKs sought to block appointment

Ifat Ovadia-Luski (WZO)
Ifat Ovadia-Luski (WZO)

The Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael announced on Tuesday that Ifat Ovadia-Luski will serve as the organization’s new chair, the first time that a woman will hold the position in the organization’s 121-year history.

Ovadia-Luski, a member of the Likud party and the first female CEO of the World Likud organization, will replace outgoing JNF-KKL chairman Avraham Duvdevani, who is due to end his tenure at the end of the year.

“The decision of the JNF board of directors today is historic and represents good news. As someone who has been active in national institutions for more than two decades, I’m proud of my selection to lead an important Zionist institution and I am aware of the national responsibility placed on my shoulders,” Ovadia-Luski said following the announcement.

The 46-year-old incoming chair currently serves as the head of the Department of Hebrew and Culture in the World Zionist Organization and has long served in international Zionist organizations.

The appointment triggered internal tensions inside the Likud, with MKs Miki Zohar and Haim Katz unsuccessfully petitioning the Likud court against it, arguing it contradicted earlier agreements.

Ovadia-Luski holds a master’s degree with honors in Administration and Education Policy from Tel Aviv University and a bachelor’s degree in Hebrew Literature and History from the Hebrew University.

The KKL-JNF’s Yatir Forest in southern Israel’s Negev. (Alex Kolomoisky)

JNF-KKL, which owns some 13 percent of Israel’s land, has long been dogged by accusations of corruption, mismanagement and inappropriate political activities, with calls growing in recent years to nationalize the organization and bring its real estate holdings and massive budget into government hands.

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