Supreme Court Judge Salim Joubran.
(photo credit: screenshot)
The Likud is unable to prove a connection between V15 and other organizations to the Zionist Union and Meretz, Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Salim Joubran ruled Sunday.
Joubran rejected the Likud’s petition to block activity by organizations V15, One Voice and Molad and by strategist Eyal Arad on grounds that they are indirectly campaigning for the Zionist Union and Meretz, and required the party to pay NIS 48,000 in legal fees.
The Likud accused the Zionist Union and Meretz of illegally accepting donations from non-Israeli citizens and organizations with foreign funding via V15, which seeks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defeat in the election, and other left-wing organizations. V15 is partly funded by S. Daniel Abraham and Daniel Lubetzky, who are not Israeli citizens.
Meretz and the Zionist Union denied any connection to V15 or the other organizations, and vice-versa.
“This petition, which was submitted with fanfare, is meeting its end with a whimper,” Joubran wrote. “Did the Likud succeed in proving a connection between the parties and the organizations? My answer to that, based on the proof presented to me, is clearly negative.”
Joubran said most of the Likud’s proof for a connection between the organizations and the parties was based on Facebook posts and rumors.
“There is great doubt if a ‘like’ on Facebook, the posting of a status by a party activist supporting V15, or a photograph of an activist in one of the organizations with the head of the Labor Party can prove the connection,” he explained.
Joubran also said that the party would have to prove that V15 was campaigning for a specific party for it to be illegal, and not the organization’s stated purpose of changing the country’s leadership, or even support for the Center-Left.
In addition, if an individual activist is working in support of both an organization and a party, it would not suffice to prove an inherent connection between the two.
The Likud also petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to block the organizations’ activities.
After Justice Zvi Segal said at a hearing last week that the Likud lacks a “smoking gun” proving ties between political parties and organizations, the party pulled its petition.
As such, Joubran wrote that the Likud’s behavior “raises questions as to whether there was a reason to submit the petition [to the Central Elections Committee] at all.”
V15 called the ruling “another defeat for the Likud.”
“Today it was finally proved that the prime minster and the Likud are busy creating spin in order to distract the public from matters of principle like the economy, society and security, in which they do not have answers or solutions,” the organization’s spokesman said.
Molad said that “from the first moment, there was no factual basis for the Likud’s false petition. Its purpose was to scare organizations that are legitimately criticizing the government.”
“The prime minister and his people would be better off working for the welfare of the people of Israel, for a change, instead of silencing them,” the organization added. “We commit to continuing to exposing to the public numbers and facts about the Israeli political system. If Netanyahu has trouble dealing with reality, he can pleasantly skim through Israel Hayom.”
The Zionist Union responded that the “Likud’s petition, like Netanyahu’s nine years in power, came to nothing.”
“Another spin and lie from Netanyahu blew up in his face.
No spin can cover nine years of nothing in housing, nothing in security, nothing in dealing with the cost of living, nothing in responsibility and nothing in leadership. Bibi [Netanyahu], you failed. Go home,” the party stated.
The Likud said it respects Joubran’s decision, but that the Segal ruling said there is enough proof to show that there could appear to be a connection between the Zionist Union and V15.
“We call on the attorney- general and police investigators to continue searching and reveal the sources of funding and money-transferring tactics of V15, The New Majority, Project 61, Dismissal ‘15 and the Generals’ Campaign,” the party said, referring to left-wing groups.
“They all receive foreign funding and are calling to replace the right-wing government.”