Limit on political donations takes effect Monday [p. 3]

If you want to make a large contribution to an Israeli political party, you have to do it by Sunday, because when the new civil calendar year begins Monday, the limit for contributions from families to parties will be cut in half. The current limit for an Israeli family to give a party is NIS 1,800. Starting Monday, the limit will fall to only NIS 900, due to a bill that passed its final Knesset readings this year. People who live abroad are not allowed to contribute directly to Israeli parties at all. The change could harm political parties that are going through financial strains, such as Labor, which is having difficulty paying the salaries of its workers, and the Likud, which fired most of its staff earlier this year. "This will not hurt Labor in the long run, but in the short run it's obviously less comfortable," a spokesman for Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel said. Labor is currently holding a membership drive that is intended in part to raise money for the party's coffers. The party's Executive Committee decided on Thursday to appoint retired judge Sarah Frish to oversee the drive and to set a January 31 deadline for contestants for Labor leadership to declare their candidacy. A Likud spokesman said the party's new director-general, Gadi Arieli, had meetings on the subject of the change in the law and how it would impact the Likud. The spokesman said the Likud would adjust to the new limit and act within the framework of the law. The law is expected to also make it more difficult for small parties to rise up and get elected to the Knesset as happened this year with the Gil Pensioners Party. New parties will now require twice as many financial supporters to get off the ground. "With the raising of the electoral threshold and now this, it will be absolutely impossible for a small party to get elected," said Marc Luria, a spokesman for former IDF deputy chief of general staff Uzi Dayan's Tafnit Party that ran unsuccessfully in the March election.