V15 group won’t be investigated before elections

Likud has accused organization of supporting Zionist Camp list in violation of the law

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira (Uri Lenz/Flash90)
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira will not investigate the left-wing V15 political group before the election March, the State Attorney’s Office announced Sunday in response to a Likud petition against the organization.

V15, which is heavily funded by foreign backers, was accused by Likud of violating election law through its alleged ties with the Zionist Camp list, which merges the Labor and Hatnua parties, and is headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.

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.”

V15 could also come under investigation after the elections over the identities of its donors and the sums involved, Shapira said.

In a press conference last week, Likud lawmakers claimed that the group was being financed illegally, and called for an investigation into the Zionist Camp’s alleged dealings with it.

“The people who stand behind V15 are groups that have a direct connection to the Zionist Camp and Labor Party,” Likud lawyer David Shimron 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.”

The Zionist Camp welcomed Sunday’s decision to forgo a probe before the election, describing the allegations tying the party to V15 as “another lie” by Netanyahu. “When one has no path and no plan, the only policy is to lie and incite,” the party said in a statement. “The citizens of Israel aren’t dupes and they aren’t buying Bibi’s tall tales.”

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 Camp leader Isaac Herzog rejected the allegations, as did V15 in a statement in which it made reference to reports that Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, had misappropriated the deposits of thousands of recyclable bottles returned to the supermarket: “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.”

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.”

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