Netanyahu said to seek extension in hunt for new Jewish Agency head
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Netanyahu said to seek extension in hunt for new Jewish Agency head

PM's preferred candidate reportedly turns down offer; Natan Sharansky to step down from position in three months

Natan Sharansky, left, head of the Jewish Agency, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the latter's Jerusalem office, June 18, 2013. (Kofi Gideon/Flash90/via JTA)
Natan Sharansky, left, head of the Jewish Agency, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the latter's Jerusalem office, June 18, 2013. (Kofi Gideon/Flash90/via JTA)

The search for the new chairman of the world’s largest Jewish nonprofit organization continues as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for more time to come up with a candidate, the Haaretz newspaper reported Tuesday.

Natan Sharansky is to step down as head of the Jewish Agency in three months, after nine years in the position.

By tradition, the prime minister suggests a candidate to head the quasi-governmental organization, and the candidate is approved by the agency’s board of governors.

Last week, Netanyahu reportedly recommended Yohanna Arbib-Perugia, head of the Jerusalem Foundation and a member of the executive of the Jewish Agency, for the position.

However, a day later Haaretz reported that Netanyahu withdrew the nomination after she apparently rejected the offer, sending the prime minister back to the drawing board.

Yohanna Arbib-Perugia in 2014 when she chaired Keren Hayesod-UIA World Board of Trustees. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Speaking to Haaretz, Arbib-Perugia did not explicitly mention the offer to replace Sharansky.

“I had the honor of meeting the prime minister and he suggested that I continue serving the Jewish people as I have done all my life,” she said.

Candidates who have been floated as possible replacements for Sharansky include former opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog; Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai; deputy diplomacy minister and former US ambassador Michael Oren; former UN ambassadors Dan Gillerman and Ron Prosor; Rivka Carmi, who is president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Ma’ale Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel; and Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz.

The agency is preparing for the possibility that it will have to delay the appointment of its new chairman.

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