Va'ad Le'ummi

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VA'AD LE'UMMI (Heb. lit.: "National Committee"), the National Council of Jews of Palestine, which functioned from Oct. 10, 1920, until the establishment of the Provisional Government of the State of Israel in May 1948 as the executive organ of the Asefat ha-Nivḥarim (the Elected Assembly) of the yishuv. It was preceded by a "provisional committee" (Va'ad Zemanni), established at a conference of representatives of various bodies in the yishuv, including soldiers of the *Jewish Legion, in 1918, at the time when only southern Palestine was occupied by the British army. Though elected in 1920 by the first Asefat ha-Nivḥarim and recognized immediately as a representative body in a letter from the *high commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, the Va'ad Le'ummi achieved formal legal status only on Jan. 1, 1928, when *Keneset Yisrael, the organizational framework of the yishuv, was legally established under the Religious Communities Organization Ordinance, 1926.

The Va'ad Le'ummi elected a smaller body to conduct its day-to-day business and was headed by a chairman, or sometimes by a president assisted by a chairman. It cooperated closely with the Zionist or *Jewish Agency Executive, which was responsible for major policy on immigration, settlement, economic development, legal defense, etc. The Va'ad Le'ummi represented the yishuv in its relations with the Mandatory government and the Arab leaders and dealt with internal matters (such as the school system) which were delegated to it by the Zionist Executive. It also cooperated closely with the Chief Rabbinate and the local community councils, which were part of the official framework of Keneset Yisrael. The Va'ad Le'ummi served as the main organ of the Jews of Palestine before the *League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission and the numerous inquiry commissions into the "Palestine problem," up to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (*unscop), which proposed partition in 1947.

Not all sections of the Jewish population in Palestine were represented in the governing bodies of Keneset Yisrael and, consequently, in the Va'ad Le'ummi. *Agudat Israel and the ultra-Orthodox circles of the old yishuv boycotted it, and from 1944 the Sephardi list, the *Revisionists, the *General Zionists, and the Farmers Union were not represented, because of their boycott of the elections to the fourth Asefat ha-Nivḥarim when their demands for a reform of the electoral system were rejected.

The Va'ad Le'ummi was headed from 1920 to 1925 by a presidium consisting of I. *Ben-Zvi, J. *Thon, and D. *Yellin; from 1925 by Yellin as chairman and Ben-Zvi and Thon as deputy chairmen; between 1929 and 1940 P. *Rutenberg twice served as president and Ben-Zvi served as chairman; from 1940 to 1944 by Ben-Zvi as chairman; and from 1944 to 1948 by Ben-Zvi as president and D. *Remez as chairman.


M. Atlas (ed.), Sefer ha-Te'udot shel ha-Va'ad ha-Le'ummili-Keneset Yisrael, 19181948 (1963).