Natan Sharansky is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's candidate for the post of Jewish Agency for Israel's new chairman.
The Prime Minister's Office announced on Saturday that Netanyahu will recommend to the Agency's Board of Trustees, which is set to convene in June, to appoint Sharansky as chairman instead of MK Zeev Bielski, who recently retired from the position following his election to the Knesset.
The 61-year-old Sharansky enjoys the support of most board members and will likely be appointed.
A former prisoner of Zion and aliyah refusenik in the Soviet Union, Sharansky served as minister in several Israeli governments. In 2006 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President George W. Bush. Twenty years earlier he received the Congressional Gold Medal for his struggle for human rights.
Sharansky retired from politics in 2006 to form the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center Institute for International and Middle East Studies.
Politically Sharansky identifies himself as right-wing. He is willing to see the Palestinians form a state on parts of the West Bank and Gaza, on condition that this state upholds democracy, dismantles the terror groups and ceases the incitement against Israel.
Sharansky is expected to take up his post at one of the most difficult periods the Jewish Agency has seen, with the numbers of olim rapidly dwindling and donations in sharp decline due to the recent global recession.
Copyright Ynet News 2009