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Pre-State Israel: Va'ad Leumi (National Council)

The supreme institution of the organized Jewish community in Eretz Israel and the executive body of the Elected Assembly, the Va'ad Leumi was founded in 1920. It comprised representatives of the major factions in the Assembly. Because of its size - 20-40 members - a smaller group was chosen as the Executive. The Va'ad Leumi met at least once a year, and its members also participated in meetings of the Zionist General Council.

In the 1920s, the Va'ad Leumi fought for legal recognition of its activities. It became less active in politics and concentrated mainly on the internal affairs of the yishuv. In the 1930s, as the yishuv grew, the Va'ad Leumi took on more functions - education, health care and welfare services - and its budget was enlarged. The departments of the Va'ad Leumi included the Political Department, which dealt with relations with the Arabs, ties with the Jewish Agency and negotiations with the British government; the Education Department; the Health Department; the Communities Department; the Rabbinate; and the Social Welfare Department. The Va'ad Leumi was also involved in internal defense and security matters, and organized recruitment to the British forces during World War II.

In the 1940s, departments for physical training, culture and press and information were added. When the State of Israel was established, this departmental structure served as a basis for the government ministries.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry