The Likud party held a press conference in Tel Aviv Sunday to offer evidence of what it called illegal campaign financing on the left.
At the event, which featured Likud Knesset members Ofir Akunis, Miri Regev, Tzipi Hotovely and Yariv Levin, as well as Likud lawyer David Shimron, the party’s representatives alleged that its rival left-wing bloc had illegal ties to the ostensibly grassroots V15 get-out-the-vote movement.
“The people who stand behind V15 are groups that have a direct connection to the Zionist Camp and Labor Party,” Shimron said.
In addition, he claimed that two left-wing non-Israeli Jews — S. Daniel Abraham and Daniel Lubetsky — backed V15 financially, which would constitute a criminal violation of two election laws.
V15, short for Victory 2015, describes itself on its website as “a supra-party movement that was established by a group of young Israelis along with the announcement of elections” in December of last year. Its aim is to “change the dispiriting reality” in Israel and “take Israel to a new path.”
“We don’t belong to and don’t work for the advancement of a particular party,” V15 says on its website. “Our aim is larger than the personal preference of each of us.”
from Europe, the United States and the New Israel Fund,” and of “intervention by international actors who are interested in deposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
OneVoice was founded in 2002, during the Second Intifada, to promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and the two-state solution.
As proof of the connection between V15 and Zionist Camp, Shimron pointed to links to V15’s website that the Zionist Camp had shared on its Facebook page.
The Likud members also alleged that Zionist Camp candidates Danny Atar and Yoel Hasson, and former Labor MKs Ephraim Sneh, Collete Avital and Michael Melchior, were linked to the leaders of OneVoice.
Sunday’s press conference followed the party’s appeal to the Central Elections Committee on Friday to halt V15’s activities, claiming it violated a campaign advertising law and campaign funding law.
“It’s a grave violation of the elections law that establishes a criminal ban on donations by foreign sources to political parties in Israel,” the Likud presenters said at the press conference.
US lawmakers press state on OneVoice funding
Last week two Republican lawmakers asked the Obama administration to explain the involvement of a State Department-funded dialogue group with V15.
“There appears to be a danger that US taxpayer funds are being used to directly shape the outcome of the upcoming Israeli election – and specifically to campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu – something all would agree would be highly inappropriate,” said the letter Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (D-NY) sent January 29 to Secretary of State John Kerry.
The letter arose from reports in Haaretz that Jeremy Bird, the national field director for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, is leading the get-out-the-vote effort, which is partnered with the OneVoice movement.
The V15 campaign does not name Netanyahu, although it is clear it wants the government replaced; one T-shirt slogan declares, “It’s simple, there’s a change.”
Bird is following a long tradition of US campaign advisers working for Israelis; Netanyahu initiated the practice in the 1990s, and Israeli parties including Likud have used ex-US presidential campaign advisers in past elections.
Zeldin and Cruz cast their questions in the context of the refusal by Obama and other administration officials to meet with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington next month to give a speech to Congress. Obama and officials of his administration say any meeting would be inappropriate just two weeks before Israelis go to the polls.
Netanyahu Fires Back At 'Obama Army' Plotting His Defeat
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party hit back Sunday at a U.S.-linked organization staffed with former Obama campaigners now working to defeat Netanyahu in an upcoming general election.
Victory 2015, or V15, attracted U.S. media attention after it hired 270 Strategies, a consulting firm whose senior leadership is comprised mostly of former top staffers for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
During a press conference Sunday, the Likud Party officially accused V15 and other related nonprofits of being supported “through millions of dollars funneled from Europe, the U.S. and the New Israel Fund and international factors interested in bringing down Prime Minister Netanyahu” who think “that all means are appropriate.”
Confirming the official Likud complaint, the contents of which were shared with WND, Wollman conceded the V15 effort against Netanyahu is funded primarily by three private philanthropists, two of whom are American:
- S. Daniel Abraham, the billionaire founder of the Slim Fast food line. Abraham is a major donor to the Democratic Party and the Clinton Foundation
- Daniel Lubetzky, a social entrepreneur whose OneVoice Movement is partnered with V15
- Alon Kastiel, a Tel Aviv-based businessman and owner of multiple local venues, including bars, clubs and hotels.
WND previously visited V15′s Tel Aviv headquarters and interviewed the group’s founder, Nimrod Dweck, who explained the ultimate goal of his campaign was to ensure “center and left parties will form the next coalition.”
OneVoice bills itself as an “international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians.” It has a clearly leftist tone.
OneVoice is reportedly sponsored by scores of nonprofits and received two grants in the past year from the U.S. State Department.
The State Department is also listed as a partner of OneVoice on the group’s website.
OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler told the Washington Free Beacon that “no government funding” has gone toward the V15 voter mobilization effort.
V15′s complete takeover of OneVoice’s Tel Aviv offices, however, may raise some questions not only about the grant usage, but also about the State Department’s current partnership with OneVoice.
Indeed, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has called for an investigation into the State Department’s ties to OneVoice and the group’s anti-Netanyahu effort.
Aside from the State Department, OneVoice is also openly partnered with Google, the U.K. Labour Party and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
For its anti-Netanyahu campaign, OneVoice and V15 recently hired 270 Strategies, whose founder is ex-Obama campaign staffer Jeremy Bird.
Bird served as a data analyst and a deputy director for Obama’s 2008 campaign and was the national field director for the president’s massive re-election machine.
Dweck told WND that Bird’s organizing skills are central to designing the evolving V15 battle plan.
270 Strategies’ team of 45 staffers includes 16 members who worked directly for Obama’s campaigns. Most of the former Obama staffers hold senior posts at the firm. Others worked for the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee or grassroots groups involved in progressive efforts, including a group to enroll Americans in Obamacare.
The involvement of Bird’s team has ignited reports in some conservative media outlets that Obama or his surrogate are attempting to influence the Israeli elections.
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