The US government supported a group that tried to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year to the tune of nearly $350,000, or NIS 1.3 million, a Senate inquiry published Tuesday found, though it cleared the State Department of any wrongdoing.
The bipartisan probe found no illegal activity in funding the OneVoice group, which became the V15 campaign to oust Netanyahu, though its report chided the State Department for having failed to prevent state funds being used, albeit legally and indirectly, to influence an allied country’s internal political process.
According to the report, authored by the permanent subcommittee on investigations of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the State Department gave grants totaling $349,276 to One Voice’s Israeli and Palestinian branches “to support peace negotiations” over a 14-month grant period that ended in November 2014.
After that period, the organizational infrastructure created with these funds was used by V15, a group that actively called on Israel’s to vote for “anyone but Bibi [Netanyahu]” during last year’s general election.
Netanyahu urged the Knesset to vote to dissolve itself on December 2, 2014, leading to new elections in March of 2015. V15 spent considerable efforts trying to convince Israeli voters that Netanyahu had to be replaced by a candidate for the center-left. Netanyahu’s Likud party and other right-wing groups derided the group at the time for using “foreign funding” to try to unseat him.