The Zionist Congress established by Herzl,is the supreme organ of the World Zionist Organization and its legislative authority. Article 13 of the WZO Constitution stipulates: "An Ordinary Congress shall meet at least once in four years at a place and time determined by the Council. It shall be convened by the Executive". Notwithstanding, the Constitution allows postponement of the Congress for special reasons, and subject to a vote. Accordingly, the last few Congresses were held approximately every five years, the most recent one being in October 2015. It should be noted that the first five Zionist Congresses were held annually.
In the inter-Congress period many of the Congress powers are assumed by the Zionist General Council, including the authority to amend the Constitution.
The number of delegates to Congress, apart from those elected on World Election Lists and those representing International Bodies, will not exceed 500. In pursuance of Section 2 of the same Article, the Zionist General Council may resolve, not later than one year before Congress meets, to increase this number by not more than 5%. In pursuance of Section 3 therein, the number of delegates to Congress will be allocated in the following proportion:Israel 38%,United States of America 29%, other countries of the Diaspora 33%.
In the case of countries of the Diaspora, an overall number is given, but the number of delegates from each country is determined, prior to each Congress, by a special Committee, which takes into account in its decisions, inter alia, the size of the Jewish population and all the Zionist achievements in each country, such as: the number of Zionist Federation members, Aliyah, Appeals, and Jewish education. (At the 34th Congress in addition to the 500 delegates an additional 32 delegates, with full voting rights, were allocated to the FSU, in accordance with the decision of the Zionist General Council from 2001, Resolution 47).
Since the new WZO Constitution came into force in 1960, there has been no personal membership in the World Zionist Organization. Only organizations can be members. An individual Zionist can belong to the World Zionist Organization only indirectly, through one of the member organizations.
The Chairman of the Central Elections Committee and the members of the Committee are appointed by the President of the Zionist Supreme Court. The Committee is chaired by a judge or judge emeritus inIsrael. Factions which participated in the previous Zionist Congress participate in the Committee as observers.
The Area Election Committee determines the method of elections and conduct of the elections in each area/country where there is a Zionist Federation, which is a member of the World Zionist Organization. Elections to the Congress must be held no later than three months prior to the Congress.
"Zionist World Union" refers to a Zionist organization, which represents a special ideological point of view within the World Zionist Organization, has branches in at least 5 countries, and is represented by a Congress Grouping.
Since the Twenty-Eighth Zionist Congress (1972), the international Jewish organizations have been represented in the Zionist Congress, provided that they accept the Jerusalem Program, even if not all their members are declared Zionists (unlike the World Unions, in which every member must be a declared Zionist). These bodies have limited voting rights - they do not vote on matters of candidature and elections to the institutions of the WZO.
The student representatives and the representatives of the Zionist Council inIsraelhave the same status as representatives of the international Jewish organizations.
There are two women''s organizations which have special status in the Zionist Organization:
The above-mentioned bodies make up the Zionist Congress.
In addition to the delegates with full voting rights participating in Congress, there are also participants in an advisory capacity only. These participants are entitled to participate in debates but have no voting rights.
1. Certain office holders, for instance members of the Zionist Executive, members of the Zionist General Council who were not elected as delegates to Congress, Chairs of the Zionist Federations, judicial office holders - the President of the Zionist Supreme Court, the Attorney, the Comptroller and representatives of the Aliyah Movement.
2. The Zionist Executive or the Congress Presidium may invite "personalities and representatives of bodies whose presence at Congress, in the view of the Executive or the Presidium is necessary or desirable" (Regulation 7A of the Standing Orders of the Zionist Congress) as observers with no speaking or voting rights.
The Zionist Congress is conducted by the Congress Presidium. Congress deliberations are divided into five stages: