The Movement for Quality Government in Israel has called on the state comptroller to examine the methods by which former Israel Defense Forces chief Dan Halutz raised nearly NIS 400,000 ahead of his anticipated entry into politics.
As reported last week in Haaretz, Halutz raised the money over the past three weeks. Most came from U.S. businessman Jeffrey Silverman. The former army chief has yet to indicate which party he hopes to represent.
Israeli law limits political donations to NIS 10,000 per donor. All donations must be made by private individuals, rather than companies. These limitations, however, do not apply to Halutz, who since leaving the military in 2007 has been considered to be going through a three-year "cooling-off period."
Halutz reported a single donation of NIS 373,000 from Silverman; the rest of the money came from an unspecified company.
Knesset sources said that though fund-raising restrictions do not yet apply to him, should Halutz run in a party primary, he will have to explain how he raised such a substantial amount of money.
The Movement for Quality Government asked State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to examine whether Halutz behaved legally in raising the funds.
Halutz left the army in November 2007, and sources within the organization said the law requires him to wait three years before he may run for the Knesset. This means he would be eligible to hold a political office in November.
The law also requires the conduct of the would-be candidate to be considered, and the sources noted that significant fund-raising may qualify as proof that an individual plans to run in a primary election.
Halutz did register his fund-raising activity with the State Comptroller's Office, though he maintained that he was not legally required to do so, as he is currently unaffiliated with any party.
The Movement for Quality Government said that nonetheless, a number of issues need to be examined regarding Halutz's behavior.
Sources in the group confirmed that Halutz said he had received donations from people with whom he had direct connections during his military service, particularly during his term as chief of staff. The law requiring a cooling-off period was created in part to temper such links between former military leaders and wealthy donors.
The sources said they believe it is clear Halutz raised the money for a future political run, and that he is, de facto, a Knesset candidate already, even before announcing a party affiliation.
"This is absurd and unacceptable. It seems that on one hand Halutz is not a primaries candidate at the moment, while at the same time he is raising these donations for that very purpose," they said.
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