V15 Campaign Funding Law Passes First Hurdle

YERUSHALAYIM -
A large campaign billboard promoting Yitzchak Herzog of the Zionist Camp party, ahead to the Israeli general elections in 2015. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

A joint subcommittee of the Knesset Control, Constitution, and Justice committees has authorized for its first Knesset vote a law that would regulate the funding of Israeli political organizations by foreign governments. Known as the V15 Law, the legislation will come up for an initial vote next week.

The law was proposed in the wake of funding provided to leftist groups by foreign groups, some of them government-sponsored, in order to campaign against Binyamin Netanyahu in last year’s Knesset elections. The Victory 2015 organization, a subgroup of the far left OneVoice organization, received money from European governments to campaign against Netanyahu.

The law does not ban donations, but rather requires that organizations are up front about them. Any organization with a budget of at least NIS 400,000 must officially register as a political lobby, and appoint an accountant who will report on the group’s activities. Groups that spend NIS 500,000 or more without fulfilling these requirements will be held criminally liable.

MK Yoav Kisch, chairman of the subcommittee, praised the ruling, saying that it would “build a concrete wall against donations aimed at buying an election. This law will result in more fair elections.”