The anti- SuperPAC bill, also known as the “V15 Bill,” was passed by the Knesset plenum late on Monday night in first reading, with a majority of 37 votes in its favor versus the 26 who were against it.
The bill defines for the first time an “active elections body” and will apply restrictions on political parties’ funding, according to the Party Funding Law on NGOs. The bill’s declared purpose in doing so is to “prevent inappropriate intervention by non-party organizations in the general Knesset elections.”
The proposal for the bill was inspired by V15, a get out the vote organization that campaigned specifically against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the former elections.
The bill defines different stages in which an organization is required to report to the State Comptroller the cost of its elections-related activity. It also limits the funding of such organizations during the elections period and determines that a breaching of the law is a criminal offence – as stated in the Party Funding Law.
MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), the initiator of the bill, said that he tried as much as possible to preserve the right of freedom of speech when he submitted it. “We wish to define what is an active elections body, therefore it applies only during the elections period,” he said in front of the Knesset plenum when he presented the bill. “If they operate in another time it will not affect them.”
Kisch stressed that as he views it, the purpose of the bill is to protect democracy in Israel. “We will not let money buy the rule here,” he added.
“Movements such as ‘Darkenu’ [the successors of V15] is a ‘just not Bibi’ movement. Such bodies should understand that they have limits, and they should start respecting the publics’ opinion that was voiced in the ballot boxes,” he said.
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) criticized the Likud party who is behind the bill, saying that they are running over anything that stands in their way. “The Likud got scared so they turned to ‘we don’t like the current law’ kind of legislation whose single purpose is to change the rules of the game,” she said. “If the right is so certain about having the popular vote and that they will win, I am not sure why theyare so obsessed with changing the law and destroy every NGO they can.”
Zandberg also deemed the bill hypocritical and claimed that it attempts to limit left-wing NGOs, but has no qualms nor does it seek to block the privately-funded daily publication Israel Hayom. “If we are talking about buying the rule with money, you should start with Sheldon’s [Adelson] paper, and the gifts like champagnes and cigars,” she said, mockingly alluding to the allegations against the prime minister that are examined in an ongoing police investigation.
The bill is set to go on to the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee in preparation for a second and third reading.
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