Likud says Herzog breaking fundraising laws

Zionist Union connected to V15, an organization working to bring down the government, which has received funding from non-Israeli citizens, Likud charges.

Hotovely holds up screenshot of Labor website with V15 link. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Hotovely holds up screenshot of Labor website with V15 link.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog has violated laws prohibiting accepting funds from non-Israeli citizens and foreign- funded organizations and governments, Likud MKs said Sunday at a Tel Aviv press conference.
Deputy ministers Tzipi Hotovely and Ophir Akunis, MKs Miri Regev and Yariv Levin, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorney David Shimron presented evidence connecting the Zionist Union to V15 (Victory in 2015), an organization working to bring down the government, which has received funding from non-Israeli citizens S. Daniel Abraham and Daniel Lubetzky.
They spoke about V15’s funding from One Voice, which has received contributions from multiple foreign governments, organizations and non-Israeli citizens. They said Zionist Union candidates Yoel Hasson and Danny Atar and former Labor MKs Ephraim Sneh, Colette Avital, and Rabbi Michael Melchior were on One Voice’s advisory board. Hasson said he had no connection to the organization.
Shimron said party funding laws set a limit of some NIS 1,000 for donations and say they can only be received from Israeli citizens. He said the laws were clarified by the then-head of the Central Elections Committee, Judge Eliezer Goldberg, in 1999 following a similar scandal involving nonprofit organizations when Ehud Barak was Labor’s candidate for prime minister and current Zionist Union and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog was his aide.
“This NPO scandal is worse than the first, because this time no one can say they didn’t know,” Levin said. “We are witnessing criminal behavior by Herzog and [his Zionist Union No. 2, Tzipi] Livni. When the first NPO scandal happened, Livni was in the Likud and she said the party was facing criminals. Then she stood for the rule of law. Now she stands beside Herzog in silence.”
Herzog chose to remain silent during the investigation of the 1999 NPO scandal. Regev dared him to go to police now and testify.
“Buji [Herzog’s nickname] has said he regrets what he did back then,” Regev said. “There are many people in jail with regrets. Now he is once again pretending he doesn’t know where the money is coming from.”
Hotovely said the Likud asked the election committee for a temporary injunction against V15, “so it will be known that a government cannot be toppled with illegitimate means.”
Shimron pointed out that the request for a temporary injunction was filed before the scandal over pocketing money from returning bottles for recycling in Netanyahu’s residence erupted.
“The bottle scandal was raised to try to distract from the nonprofit organization scandal, and not the other way around,” he said.
The Zionist Union responded by citing a long list of scandals Netanyahu was involved in that party leaders see as using public funds illegitimately.
“We saw the Likud today panic and put on a show, because it is scared of losing power after six years,” Herzog said at an event for Labor activists in Tel Aviv. “It was embarrassing, without facts, baseless and full of lies. We have no connection to an organization’s campaign to replace Netanyahu, but we are connected to the public, and the public wants to replace Netanyahu.”
A V15 spokesman responded that Netanyahu and his wife had “consumed so many recycled bottles of alcohol that they were convinced that evil genies were coming out” of them.
“V15 will continue to protest at junctions across the country, and they will continue to recycle and fantasize,” the spokesman said.
Itamar Weizman, one of the founders of V15, said the publicity from the Likud’s press conference led to hundreds of people volunteering for the organization.
Weizman said his organization received no funding from any European organization or any foreign country.
He said One Voice received a State Department grant two years ago for the organization to build grassroots support for Netanyahu’s peacemaking effort with the Palestinians, but there was no funding now that could be connected to the administration of US President Barack Obama.
When asked about the recent visit to Israel of Obama’s field director, Jeremy Bird, he said Bird’s company had advised One Voice for two years and that there was no connection with the Obama administration whatsoever.
“From day one, we have worked with a legal adviser, because we don’t want to break any laws,” Weizman told VoiceofIsrael.
com. “We want to topple Netanyahu the most proper way. I want to win the election fair and square. We are Israelis and we don’t want to accept any foreign money. The dude who has foreign money is Netanyahu, from [US billionaire Sheldon] Adelson.”