The Claims Conference froze allocations to the Jewish Agency yesterday due to public criticism by Jewish Agency Chair Zeev Bielski. The move will affect education programs for Jews in eastern European and the former Soviet Union and assisted living for Holocaust survivors. The Claims Conference is the central entity transferring German reparations to survivors and Jewish organizations worldwide, as well as being responsible for restitution of Jewish property in the former East Germany and Austria. The committee is managed by representatives of major Jewish organizations and Bielski serves as an officer.

Last year, Bielski accused the conference of not transferring enough funds to social and educational projects in Israel and the Diaspora and pushed for an audit of its books. A leaked copy of the preliminary audit findings revealed a $1 billion surplus, which the conference argued was earmarked for future nursing care for elderly survivors. At last week’s Claims Conference allocations meeting, some representatives attacked Jewish Agency delegates and said that only if Bielski apologizes will the $4 million annual funding resume.