Likud ordered to pay NIS 48,000 for failed V15 petition
Central Elections Committee is latest body to reject charges against anti-Netanyahu grassroots movement
Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter
The Central Elections Committee rejected the Likud’s petition against the V15 grassroots organization Sunday, and ordered the party to pay NIS 48,000 ($12,450) to the defendants.
The Likud charged that the left-wing group had illegal ties to the Zionist Union and its leader, Isaac Herzog.
CEC Chairman Salim Joubran ruled that the allegations were “patently false.”
The petition, announced earlier this month in a major press conference, didn’t fare any better in the court system.
Last Wednesday, Jerusalem District Court Judge Zvi Segal said at a hearing that evidence tying V15 (which stands for Victory 2015) to political parties running in the March 17 election was tenuous. The next day, the Likud party dropped its petition to bar V15’s operations, after party lawmakers admitted that there was insufficient evidence to prove links to the Zionist Union or to any other political faction.
Last week, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein rejected the petition to disqualify V15.
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.
Herzog had rejected the allegations, as did V15.
Following last week’s 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 the 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.
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.”
The 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.”
The 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 Jewish, democratic, proud and independent, and not half-Jewish and half-Arab.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.