Labor And Likud Trying To Block Campaign Disclosures
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel’s two largest political parties are trying to prevent disclosure of the names of major campaign contributors, a move denounced by one opposition lawmaker today as ″scandalous behavior.″
Israeli law does not require disclosure of campaign contributions, and the total amount of money raised by the parties for the 1988 campaign is not known.
But as much as one-third of the money reportedly comes from the United States and other foreign countries.
The controversy arose when State Comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat announced that in her 1988 report she planned to name every contributor who donated more than 50,000 shekels ($27,800) to one or more political parties.
The report would cover the recent parliamentary election.
In response, the right-wing Likud bloc and the left-of-center Labor Party introduced a joint bill that would give the parliament speaker sole authority to publish the comptroller’s report on election financing and allow the speaker to withhold parts of it. The speaker is always a member of the largest party, and the position long has been controlled by Labor or Likud.
Ms. Ben-Porat met with parliament Speaker Dov Shilansky of Likud this week to express reservations about the proposed law, the Jerusalem Post said.
Shlomit Lavy, a spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office, refused to comment on the report.
Spokesmen for Labor and Likud, who recently formed a new coalition government, did not return telephone messages at their offices.
Parliament member Amnon Rubinstein of the left-leaning Shinui Party today criticized the Labor-Likud proposal.
″To me, that is scandalous behavior,″ he said. ″We are talking about millions of dollars the parties have received from big business. The very fact that they want to conceal it speaks for itself.″
Rubinstein said the system opened the door to corruption. ″Somebody who gives huge sums expects the party to give him preferential treatment,″ he said in a telephone interview.
″The fat cats abroad often give huge sums to both of the big parties and then they make sure they get their outlay back in investments, concessions and other financial privileges,″ Rubinstein told the Jerusalem Post.
At the time of the 1988 campaign, Israeli media reports said Swiss businessman Bruce Rappoport donated $1.5 million to Labor, and U.S. millionaire Meshulam Riklis gave $1 million to Likud.
Labor leader Shimon Peres raised $2 million during a nine-day trip to the United States in 1988, and Likud legislator Binyamin Netanyahu gained nearly $1 million for his party during a similar visits, reports said.
Rubinstein said he has pushed for a 30,000-shekel ($16,700) ceiling on single contributions and a requirement that all contributions be made public, but that the proposals were killed in committee.
U.S. law forbids donations from foreign nationals and limits individual contributions to $1,000 and donations of political action committees to $5,000. Public disclosure is required.