OneVoice, a US-based advocacy group which counts the son of Mahmoud Abbas among its senior advisors, has partnered with V15 in a campaign to replace the current Likud administration in Israel, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to two US lawmakers, their involvement may be illegal, and they have called for an investigation into the group’s financial activities.
OneVoice Israel is a part of the OneVoice Movement, a US-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting grass-roots support for a two-state solution to the tensions in Israel. V15, short for Victory 2015, is “a non-partisan movement founded by young adults just as the 2015 Israeli elections were announced” according to a recent press release regarding their partnership.”
However, in an interview with The Jewish Press, V15 founder Nimrod Dweck stated, “We want to bring a change in the political sphere so that the center and left parties will form the next coalition,” belying the group’s claims of impartiality.
“We believe that it’s critical that the majority of Israelis who are concerned about the numerous security and socio-economic challenges we face have their voices heard in the next election,” said OneVoice Israel’s Executive Director Polly Bronstein in a press release. “We need a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”
Following accusations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party levelled against OneVoice and V15 about illegal campaign funding, some unflattering information about the pro-left partnership has come to light. Israel Hayom reported Tuesday that Yasser Mahmoud Abbas, son of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, is listed as a senior adviser to OneVoice International in the PA.
According to OneVoice, “Mahmoud Abbas’ son is a member of the Advisory Council of OneVoice in the Palestinian Authority, which is working toward a diplomatic agreement and two states for two peoples. Just as Michi Ratzon, who ran in the Likud primaries, served on the Advisory Council in Israel, and David Azoulay, Avraham Michaeli, Yitzhak Vaknin and Yitzhak Cohen from Shas serve in the movement’s lobby in Knesset, as do MK Elazar Stern, MK Rabbi Dov Lipman and many others.
“Any attempt to tie his influence to the movement in Israel is foolish and untrue. We do not recall any such claims or complaints about the issue when OneVoice led a campaign in support of Prime Minister Netanyahu when he was considering the option of a diplomatic arrangement.”
Meanwhile, US Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Lee Zeldin have questioned OneVoice Movement’s partnership with V15, claiming the group may have violated the conditions of their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
By law, a non-profit organization “may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”
Israel Hayom quoted Zeldin, who appeared on Fox News’ “The Kelly File”.
“Why are U.S. tax dollars being sent to a nonprofit trying to overthrow an Israeli government?” he lamented. “OneVoice, which is a U.S.-taxpayer-funded 501(C)(3) not-for-profit, has partnered with V15 in the effort to oust Netanyahu. OneVoice advertises on their website that they are partners in the State Department, they recently received two State Department grants … and V15 has entered into a contract with a political consulting firm called ‘270 Strategies’ which has over a dozen individuals who worked in leadership positions for Obama’s re-election and original election. … We have a lot of great allies but none more stronger than Israel, which is a beacon of freedom of democracy and liberty in a region filled with radical Islamic extremists and state-sponsored terrorism.”
The Jerusalem Post produced an excerpt from Cruz and Zeldin’s letter to the State Department, asking that it investigate OneVoice’s finances in the matter. “We write to express strong concerns over the recent media reports that a US taxpayer funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called OneVoice is actively working with a campaign operation called V15 or ‘Victory 2015’ in an effort to influence the outcome of the elections in Israel on March 17, 2015,” the pair wrote.
OneVoice responded to the letter by saying it has not received any grant money since November 2014, before Israeli elections were announced, and none of its state funds were directed towards its current campaign. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed this claim.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reported Wednesday that V15 has filed a formal police complaint against the Likud party for its accusations.