Law Against Foreign Funding of Election Campaigns Passes First Reading

Likud MK Yoav Kisch. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Knesset has passed on its first reading a law that would regulate the funding of Israeli political organizations by foreign governments. Known as the V15 Law, the legislation will now be sent back to committee for preparation for its second and third reading. The legislation is aimed at preventing interference in Israeli elections by foreign organizations and governments that fund political campaigns. The right has accused leftist groups of accepting such funding.

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 Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The law does not ban donations, but rather requires that organizations are up front about them. Any organization with a budget of between NIS 100,000 and 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 400,000 or more without fulfilling these requirements will be held criminally liable.

The law passed on its first reading by a vote of 37 MKs in favor and 26 opposed. MK Yoav Kisch, who authored the law, 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.”