"It is now time for me to pursue an independent political career opportunity."

Former Ambassador Danny Ayalon has resigned from the North American aliyah organization Nefesh B'Nefesh (N.B.N.) after serving nearly two years as its co-chairman. N.B.N. announced the resignation Sunday morning in a statement that said Ayalon had decided to continue promoting aliyah, immigration to Israel, "from the arena of public service."


The organization, founded by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart, has brought some thousands of new immigrants to Israel from the United States, Canada and Britain since its maiden flight from New York in 2002.


Ayalon, who joined the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party in August, is expected to run for the Knesset on its list after first serving as chairman of World Yisrael Beiteinu, a position that has remained unfilled since the death of former MK Yuri Stern. 


Although he said his work with N.B.N. has been extremely rewarding, Ayalon added "it is now time for me to pursue an independent political career opportunity."


Prior to joining Nefesh B'Nefesh in 2006, the professional diplomat had served as Israel's ambassador to the United States, a post in which he proved popular with the American Jewish community as well as "three successive Israeli administrations." He also served as political advisor to three former prime ministers, including Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud), Ehud Barak (Labor) and Ariel Sharon (Kadima).


In his role at Nefesh B'Nefesh, noted the group in its statement, Ayalon helped enhance the organization's strategic partnerships with government bodies and agencies, as well as within the Jewish world. One outcome of the relationship was the government's unprecedented decision in September 2007 to fund private aliyah organizations. After some quiet arm wrestling with the Jewish Agency for Israel over the need to share government funds, "a historic cooperation agreement was reached," said N.B.N.


"Danny has been a true friend and an invaluable asset to Nefesh B'Nefesh," said Gelbart, N.B.N. co-founder and chairman.


He has also been a great asset to others; in addition to his role as co-chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh, Ayalon has been working as an international consultant together with former Sharon associate and attorney Dov Weisglass. But working to raise the stature of Western aliyah, he said, was a "personal privilege."


The ultimate means to building and securing the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish People, Ayalon added, is found in "bringing Jews to their homeland... Nefesh B'Nefesh represents one of the most historic, extraordinary undertakings of our time."


Of the 17,000 new immigrants that have moved to Israel with the organization, 98 percent have remained in the Jewish State, and 94 percent of the families have one or both spouses employed.

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