Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein rejected Wednesday a Likud party petition to disqualify the left-wing V15 group, which was accused by the ruling party of violating election law through its alleged ties with the Zionist Union list.
In a press conference last week, Likud lawmakers claimed that the group was being financed illegally, and called for an investigation into alleged dealings with the Zionist Union, which merges the Labor and Hatnua parties, and is headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
Weinstein said that the election committee chairman had no grounds to disqualify V15’s campaign, which has called for the unseating of Israel’s Likud-led government in the upcoming elections, 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, 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.”
On Sunday, 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.
OneVoice was founded in 2002, during the Second Intifada, to promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and the two-state solution.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog rejected the allegations, as did V15.
On Friday, 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.”
Also Wednesday, Weinstein turned back a petition that sought to prevent the Arab-Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi from running in the elections. Weinstein said that while Zoabi had in the past made “worrying remarks” that could be interpreted as offering support for terrorism, the evidence against the lawmaker was not clear-cut and did not provide sufficient cause to disqualify her.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.