Herzog: Likud is panicking, lying about Labor ties to V15

Responding to charges that faction broke campaign laws, Zionist Camp leader says he has no connection to grassroots group

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Isaac Herzog (left) and Tzipi Livni (right) hold a joint press conference in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2014, announcing a unity deal. (photo credit: Flash90)
Isaac Herzog (left) and Tzipi Livni (right) hold a joint press conference in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2014, announcing a unity deal. (photo credit: Flash90)

Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog responded Sunday evening to accusations by the Likud party that his list had broken campaign financing laws, calling them “lies” from a panicking faction.

Speaking at a Tel Aviv event for party campaign workers, Herzog said that a Likud press conference earlier Sunday was a “show of panic from the Likud leadership.

“A show of people under whose feet the ground is burning. I understand them: After six very hard years it is hard to love being in government and step down, but this is exactly what’s happening. We have no connection to any organization or any outside campaign coming to replace Netanyahu. This is a total lie.”

Herzog also said the Likud should “stop crying and playing dumb. All this crying doesn’t help them. On March 17, the citizens of Israel will all vote for a prime minister who serves the state and not himself.”

Earlier in the day, Likud Knesset members Ofir Akunis, Miri Regev, Tzipi Hotovely and Yariv Levin, as well as Likud lawyer David Shimron, had alleged that the Labor-Hatnua unity party 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.

Likud parliament member Ofir Akunis seen at a press conference of the Likud political party in Tel Aviv on February 01, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
Likud Knesset Member Ofir Akunis seen at a press conference of the Likud party in Tel Aviv, February 1, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

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.”

The Likud 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.”

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 the Zionist Camp, Shimron pointed to links to the V15 website that the Zionist Camp had shared on its Facebook page.

The Likud members also alleged that Zionist Camp candidates were linked to the leaders of OneVoice.

Yoel Hasson — a Zionist Camp candidate who was accused of playing a role in the leadership of OneVoice — denied the allegations, according to Haaretz, saying that when he was a member of the Likud he had taken part in activities in which OneVoice was also involved, and that other Likud MKs had done so as well.

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 a 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.

V15 denied the charges, and said that “the Netanyahus and Likud gathered so many recycled bottles that they are convinced that they will be able to make imaginary genies come out of them… V15 activists will continue to capture the junctions and the street, while they continue to recycle and hallucinate.” This was a dig at Netanyahu over recent reports that his wife, Sara, had thousands of recyclable bottles returned to the supermarket and had pocketed the deposit money.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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