Netanyahu's Party Admits to Financing Campaign Presented as Unaffiliated

The campaign had falsely presented itself as unaffiliated with any specific party, violating election committee guidelines

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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A Likud election signs hangs in Ramat Gan, Israel, March 31, 2019.
A Likud election signs hangs in Ramat Gan, Israel, March 31, 2019. Credit: Moti Milrod
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

After trying for some time to hide its responsibility for a campaign encouraging people to vote for rightist parties on Election Day, the Likud party admitted to the Central Elections Committee on Monday that it is actually financing it.

Sources familiar with the issue said that funding for the campaign, which is titled Zazim Yamina (“Moving Rightward”), totaled 1.5 million shekels ($400 thousand).

“Zazim Yamina and Likud are a single legal and political entity, which is Likud,” the party said in a statement. “Zazim Yamina is a name the Likud gave to campaign activity that is managed by a special headquarters, one of many such headquarters, like the one for young immigrants, the one for Election Day, and others.”

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Zazim Yamina is similar in principle to the V15 campaign in the 2015 election, which urged people to vote for center-left parties.

But hitherto, Zazim Yemina had falsely presented itself as unaffiliated with any specific party.

“We are nonpartisan field workers working on behalf of the parties in the national camp [i.e. the right] to ensure the integrity of the land,” its website states. “The goal of Zazim Yamina is to encourage as many potential voters as possible to vote for parties in the national camp. Everyone is invited to choose [the specific party] based on his own worldview,” the statement said.

    But two other rightist parties, Hayamin Hehadash and Yisrael Beiteinu, had both denied any connection to the campaign.

    The Union of Right-Wing Parties, in contrast, said that while it wasn’t funding the campaign, it was working with Likud to recruit volunteers. The campaign is mostly being run by religious Zionists affiliated with Likud.

    But Central Elections Committee Chairman Hanan Melcer has ruled that any party activity must be clearly identified with the party. Thus by financing Zazim Yamina but presenting it as a nonpartisan initiative, Likud was circumventing Melcer’s ruling.

    Likud argues that since Zazim Yamina isn’t pushing a specific party, there was no obligation to identify Likud as the campaign’s sponsor in advertisements.

    But two petitioners against Zazim Yamina, attorney Shachar Ben-Meir and the Labor Party, argue that it violates a law passed by the current government to prevent a recurrence of V15’s campaign. Melcer will hear their petitions on Wednesday.

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