Likud, New Hope fined NIS 250,000 for party funding infractions

Part of the deficit came from parties who did not make it into the Knesset and could not return the funds they loaned from it. These included Ichud Leumi, Gesher, Telem and Kulanu.

New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

A number of parties led by Likud and New Hope were fined by State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman over infractions of party funding rules and election rules during the 23rd Knesset and the election for the 24th, according to a report published on Tuesday.

The 23rd Knesset served between March 16, 2020, and April 6, 2021, and dispersed automatically on December 23, 2020, after failing to pass a budget.

Likud and New Hope were both fined NIS 250,000, United Torah Judaism was fined NIS 100,000, Yamina NIS 50,000, and Labor chairperson and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli was fined NIS 7,000 for infractions in the previous Labor primary, the report showed. Shas received a warning for an infraction that it has committed in the past, but was not sanctioned.

The aggregate income of all parties during their campaigns for the 23rd Knesset was NIS 174.2 million, nearly 95% of which was state funding. The aggregate spending was NIS 223.8 million. The aggregate deficit is NIS 49.6 million, which is over a quarter of the income (28%).

Part of the deficit came from parties that did not make it into the Knesset and could not return the funds they were loaned. These included the National Union, Gesher, Telem and Kulanu.

 Leader of the Opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the media at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Leader of the Opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the media at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The parties were fined for different types of infractions.

New Hope and Yamina exceeded the election spending cap, the former by a wide margin, 80%, and the latter by 8%.

The spending cap

Yamina’s spending cap was NIS 13,886,000, and it exceeded it by NIS 1,119,891, the report found.

New Hope’s spending cap was NIS 16,663,200, and it exceeded it by NIS 13,296,652.

The spending cap is set retroactively, based on the number of seats a party receives in the election. Therefore, new parties, which tend to fluctuate more in the polls than established parties, face difficulty setting an accurate budget.

“New Hope respects the comptroller’s decision and will comply,” New Hope said in a statement. “It should be clarified that the party’s financial conduct over the entire previous election campaign was balanced, careful and flawless. The budget was planned meticulously, and was changed during the campaign based on the expected number of mandates, based on research and polls in the relevant period. Since it is a new party, the cap was mostly set based on the number of mandates, which raises the [financial] uncertainty.”

The Likud and UTJ were fined NIS 250,000 and 100,000 respectively for failing to report or pay a special 25% income tax required by law on all salaries paid to party election workers.

"It should be clarified that the party's financial conduct over the entire previous election campaign was balanced, careful and flawless. The budget was planned meticulously and was changed during the campaign based on the expected number of mandates, based on research and polls in the relevant period."

New Hope

Shas was warned for improperly using party funding for its media campaigns. This is an infraction it was previously warned about, but the law does not include sanctions.