MK Yoav Kish (Likud) has formulated a revised version of a law aimed at limiting the ability of nongovernmental organizations to conduct political campaigns during an election campaign.
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The so-called “V15 law” passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset a few weeks ago and is expected to be discussed at a special Knesset panel next week. Kish has been promoting the law together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the proposed law, NGOs will be able to budget up to 100,000 shekels ($26,500) on a campaign or other activity parallel to that of a political party during an election season.
The previous version stipulated that NGOs can accept a contribution of 1,000 shekels annually from an individual donor in a nonelection year, and up to 2,300 shekels in an election year, with no limit on the amount the organization can budget for its campaigns.
If the draft law is passed, the extent of NGO political campaigns will be significantly reduced.
Kish emphasizes in the revised proposal that NGOs have a higher cap on donations than political parties. “The revision also makes an exception for political opinions expressed in the media,” he states. However, this would have to clarify that expression of an opinion by means other than a paid advertisement is not made on behalf of a political organization.
Another proposed change relates to U.S. Senate findings, in regard to funds it transferred to organizations around the world. According to these findings, in the last Israeli election the V15 organization used databases it had acquired previously for nonpolitical purposes, which had been funded at the time by the Senate.
“In order to prevent circumvention of the Party Funding Law, there will also be provisions in the law aimed at creating transparency in the costs and modes of action of parties that purchase databases of potential voters,” states the proposal.
According to Kish, “The proposed change strikes a balance between the preservation of freedom of expression and the need to prevent clearly political party activity carried out under cover of nonpartisan activity and without the restrictions imposed on involved parties.
“Such activity must be subordinated to the party funding laws, in order to prevent involvement of funds originating abroad and of foreign elements in the process of Knesset elections,” he adds.