Netanyahu Primary Campaign Relying on Foreign Cash

The incumbent prime minister has taken all his donations from the U.S. and Spain, none from Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised some 375,000 shekels ($95,600) in campaign contributions ahead of the Likud party primary next month, all of it from donors in the United States and Spain and none from Israel.

Among the donors are four members of the Falic family of Miami, whose company Duty Free Americas operates in both North and South America. Each of the four gave 45,000 shekels, 1,000 shekels less than the legally mandated ceiling for politicians running to lead a party. Candidates are permitted to raise up to 2.1 million shekels for a primary.

Likud is gearing up for a January 6 primary, although the prime minster has been angling for an earlier date in a bid to ensure that former Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar does not have time to join the race. The general election is scheduled for March 17. More than 85,000 people on the Likud membership rolls are entitled to vote for party leader.

Moshe Feiglin, the rightist Likud Knesset member challenging Netanyahu, has raised 179,800 shekels from 143 donors, figures show. Contributions range from a few dozen shekels to 13,000 shekels. MK Danny Danon, another rightist seeking to lead the party, has raised 189,000 shekels from five donors, all based in the United States.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon leads fund-raising for people vying for a place on Likud’s Knesset slate, where the legally mandated limit for individual contributions is 11,500 shekels. The total candidates can raise is 500,000 shekels.

Ya’alon has raised 68,000 shekels from eight donors, 10,000 shekels of it from Ken and Nira Abramowitz, the chairman of American Friends of Likud and his wife. Ken Abramowitz also recently gave 10,000 shekels to Ofir Akunis, a Likud MK who has raised 61,000 shekels from seven donors.

Tzachi Hanegbi, the Likud deputy minister of foreign affairs, has raised 119,000 shekels from 13 people, while Yariv Levin has raised 68,000 shekels from eight donors. MK Zeev Elkin, the coalition chairman, has raised 40,000 shekels from five donors, while MK Miri Regev has raised 34,000 shekels from four donors.