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March 20, 2015 3:47 pm

Watchdog Group Says Israeli Election Subject to Massive and Blatant Subversion

avatar by Chris Coffey

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes on Tuesday. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90.

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, President of watchdog group NGO Monitor, said today that Israeli democracy suffers from the “severe problem of foreign interference.” Steinberg was responding to a Washington Post article, in which he was quoted, analyzing the role of foreign money in the Israeli election.

“No other democratic country in the world is subject to such massive interference and blatant subversion,” said Steinberg.

“Groups like V-15, OneVoice, Ameinu and the powerful New Israel Fund operate entirely outside Israeli government regulations and campaign financing laws, and this must end — no democracy can allow itself to be manipulated by unaccountable and irresponsible political frameworks.”

Earlier this week, Netanyahu warned that his political opponents in Israel’s general election on Tuesday were benefiting from “tens of millions” in foreign support.

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The Washington Post published a story today about the amount of foreign money injected into the elections. While the paper said that there were millions in foreign money spent on the race, there was no evidence of tens of millions having been spent.

Steinberg praised The Washington Post piece for “highlighting the severe problem of foreign interference in and efforts to manipulate Israeli democracy,” but he thought it was too dismissive of European efforts to influence the elections.

“Kessler’s piece gave short shrift to the tens of millions of dollars provided annually by European governments to political groups such as B’tselem, Peace Now, and dozens more,” Steinberg said. “This practice is a form of modern imperialism, with the Europeans using money for NGOs as the main form of influence. All of these forms of interference and manipulation will be examined in detail in the Knesset in coming months.”

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