The future of talks on a merger between the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council were thrown into doubt this week after a meeting of the joint group established to explore a closer union were cancelled.
The latest round of talks, scheduled for Tuesday evening, were called off earlier that day amid claims from the JLC that the Board was “not able to make two specific important short term commitments that had been expected at this stage in the discussions”.
One of the areas of acrimony is over the funding of the consultancy process required to gauge the views of deputies about any closer union. While a JLC spokesperson said the Board needed to “deliver on the agreed principle of fairly sharing the resourcing of the process”, a spokesman for the latter told the Jewish News: “The liaison group knows that we agreed to the principle that both sides need to pay towards the cost. The detail of who will pay what need to be worked out when we know how much will cost and are ready to make an appointment”.
It’s believed the other issue relates to a call for the Board to offer a written acknowledgment that the handling of the parliamentary group on British Jews – pursued by the Board without consultation with other communal organisations – could have been better.
Saying that the APPG had been talked out at length since news of its creation emerged last month, the Board spokesperson said it believed that going over the issue in public would not benefit the merger talks.
Expressing regret at the postponement, he added: “There was no reason why the meeting could not have taken place and the board representatives were expected it until being told that afternoon that it was cancelled. The leadership of the Board remains committed to the goal of creating a unified structure to represent British Jewry. We look forward to engaging positively and constructively in talks with the JLC, as soon as they are ready to do so.”
The JLC spokesperson said: “We have continued to support and resource the process and all parties agreed a set of principles that would deliver a new central entity that retained the strengths of both current institutions. We remain keen to achieve that, however, to move to the next stage we need to see the Board deliver on the agreed principle of fairly sharing the resourcing of the process and promoting the right environment for constructive engagement.”