A bill allowing donations to politicians for legal and medical costs passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset on Monday, and will be sent to a committee for preparation for further readings.
The bill amends the 1979 Public Service Law -- which restricts officials from receiving presents and money from foreign officials and private sources for personal use -- to permit financial contributions for legal expenses or essential medical treatment for the public servant, spouse or child. The legal proceedings cannot be initiated by the publics servant or his family.
The donations have several limitations on who can donate. Donations cannot be made by subordinates, minors, and corporations.
Donations of more than NIS 2,500 cannot be given anonymously, and no more than NIS 5,000 can be crowdfunded. Crowdfunded campaigns are limited to 20 of such projects. Donations cannot be made in cash. If the need for donations ends, the funds will be returned to donors.
"This bill is intended to stop the abuse of elected officials, the morally intolerable situation in which we tell the elected officials, from today you are alone in a cage, you have no family, friends or acquaintances," said Likud MK Amit Halevi, who submitted the law.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was working to gain donations rather than address the state's economic and security issues.
"This bill is intended to stop the abuse of elected officials, the morally intolerable situation in which we tell the elected officials, from today you are alone in a cage, you have no family, friends or acquaintances."Amit Halevi
"There is no law more worthy of being struck down by the High Court, and I expect it to be," Liberman wrote on Twitter.
The Movement for Quality Government
The Movement for Quality Government also contended that the bill was pursued in the personal interests of Netanyahu. The NGO had previously successfully petitioned the High Court demanding that Netanyahu return almost $300,000 in gifts to the estate of his deceased cousin, and the movement contended that the bill was an attempt to bypass the ruling and validate corruption.
"It's not enough that he's trying to destroy the legal system, every time the law stops him he keeps changing the law to allow him to do these illegal things," said movement chairman Eliad Shraga.
The Attorney-General's Office has been critical of the bill, which it said could open the door to corruption and damage public trust.
MK Moshe Saada dismissed the A-G's concerns, saying that they came from political rather than legal concerns.