The Likud party dropped its petition Thursday to bar the operations of the V15 organization, after party lawmakers admitted that there was insufficient evidence to prove the left-wing group had ties to the Zionist Union and its leader, Isaac Herzog, or to any other political faction.
Herzog had rejected the allegations, as did V15.
The decision followed a recommendation by Jerusalem District Court Judge Zvi Segal, who said at a hearing on Wednesday that evidence tying V15 (which stands for Victory 2015) — an organization that seeks to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu but claims to be independent from any political connection — to political parties running in the March 17 election was tenuous.
Following the decision, the Zionist Union released a statement saying it was “unfortunate that Bibi [Netanyahu] now has to come up with a new media spin, because God forbid anyone should bring up his failures in security, housing and cost of living.”
“This is what it’s like with Bibi, when he drops in the polls, he dials it up in lies,” the statement read.
Last week, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein rejected a Likud petition to disqualify V15, which was accused by the ruling party of violating election law through its alleged ties with the Zionist Union.
Weinstein said that the election committee chairman had no grounds to disqualify V15’s campaign, as the activities referred to in Likud’s petition were not explicitly prohibited by Israeli law.
However, V15 could come under investigation after the elections over the identities of its donors and the sums involved, Weinstein said.
V15 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.”
Last week, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira said an investigation into V15 would not take place before the elections.
The State Attorney’s Office said in a statement that the comptroller did not have the authority to investigate V15 before the elections, and that in order for such a probe to be opened after the elections, the group must first be defined as a body that’s “linked to a party.”
Likud had charged that the V15 group “operates with aid from radical leftist groups such as OneVoice and Molad, which are supported by millions of dollars flowing in 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.”
Likud later admitted that the New Israel Fund was not one of the group’s backers.
Earlier this month, Jewish-American billionaire S. Daniel Abraham acknowledged he supported the ostensibly grassroots movement — an entirely legal venture — but denied that he funded or supported any specific party or candidate.
“I am helping Israel obtain the best prime minister that Israel can have,” Abraham told Channel 2.
“I don’t know [how much money I donated to V15], but I give them my heart, I give my heart to Israel [and] the Jewish people,” he added. “I support the Jewish people with everything I have, because I want Israel to remain a Jewish, democratic, proud and independent and not half-Jewish and half-Arab.”