P. 84

The minutes of the Zionist Executive (the predecessor of the Jewish Agency) indicate that there was a degree of tension between the partners in the building. Thus, in the meeting of the Executive dated April 29, 1928, it was written that they knew the KKL-JNF Wing would be built first, however it would be appropriate to inform the KKL-JNF that the Zionist Executive Wing would be in the center. The architectural competition was announced and created a great amount of interest. The results, as reported, would be published in several months. The estimate was the erection of the entire building would cost about 60 thousand Palestinian Pounds and the various Zionist entities expressed hope that the construction work would be able to begin in September or October of that year (1928).
In August 1928, the results of the architectural competition were published, with a certain amount of surprise. The first-place prize was awarded to an architect that was unknown to many, the 37-year- old Oygen Ratner, a lecturer at the Technion in Haifa. He beat dozens of architects, including some of the most famous in the Land of Israel (about the competition, see the chapter "The Architectural Competition for Erecting the National Institutions Building," pp. 27-45).
Now the path was clear for construction work to begin on the building, however this was delayed by quite a few months. In a discussion at the Zionist Executive, the financial issue arose yet again. It was decided that the Executive Treasurer, Siegfried van Vriesland, would write to two big donors in the Jewish World, Yitzhak Naidich and Salman Z. Schocken, to find out whether it would be possible for them to make a donation for erection of the Executive's building, as part of the National Institutions Building.
In early 1929, disputes arose between the Zionist Executive and the KKL-JNF – with regards to both the pace of construction of the building and the various technical details. In a meeting of the Executive on February 16, 1929, Dr. Arthur Hantke said: The KKL-JNF announced that it would begin construction on its building soon. The Zionist Executive, who was also a partner to the building, is displaying undue passivity on the issue in his opinion. This is dangerous, "because the KKL-JNF may do things in the meantime that are not desirable to us." He presented the example of the type of stone that KKL-JNF engineers wish to use. "In general," he added, "there are many things that are shared in the building that all the partners in the building must agree to."
Dr. Hantke proposed greater involvement of the Technical Department of the Zionist Executive in erecting the building.
Later in that discussion, it became clear that while KKL-JNF was in a hurry, the Zionist Executive viewed the erection of the building as a non-urgent future matter. Moreover: The Treasurer Siegfried van Vriesland proposed approaching KKL-JNF and requesting that it delay construction for at least a year. He explained that it is wrong for the Zionist Executive to delay construction, since it too suffers from a lack of a home of its own and is forced to pay rent for the offices it rents.

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