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Report: Senate Panel Probes If US Funds Used to Defeat Netanyahu

By    |   Monday, 16 Mar 2015 09:13 PM

A Senate subcommittee is investigating whether a $350,000 State Department grant to a U.S. nonprofit was used to try to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tuesday's Israeli election, Fox News reports.

FoxNews.com quoted a source as saying the probe will look at whether money given to One Voice, a group seeking a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, was forwarded to its Israeli subsidiary, Victory 15.

The Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick wrote that V15, as it is commonly known, has run "a hate campaign against Netanyahu the likes of which we have never seen in Israel."

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, headed by Republican Rob Portman with ranking Democrat Claire McCaskill, is reportedly in charge of the probe.

The probe will look into whether One Voice violated its tax-exempt status and whether it violated the law by using taxpayer money to influence a foreign election.

"Why would we, as Americans, be trying to influence a democracy, an ally in the Middle East, the only real democracy in the Middle East? Why would we be trying to influence the election there with American taxpayer dollars?" said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who is not a member of the subcommittee, on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" on Monday.

Rep. Lee Zeldin and Sen. Ted Cruz sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Jan. 29 asking about the allegations, but they have yet to be answered, Van Susteren reported.

"We see this a lot the with the administration. They defer those answers to the real questions from Congress in hopes that perhaps the election takes place without really this coming to light," Meadows said.

When asked about the probe on Monday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department has "historically" cooperated with congressional investigations.

"In this case we have only seen the reports. We don't have any more details. I have asked this morning, I don't think we have had any official notification of this investigation," she said.

Republican operative Karl Rove told Van Susteren that the operation sounded a lot like ACORN, which Republicans have charged with using taxpayer funds to influence elections in the United States.

After One Voice received the money in November, it announced in an annual report that it would be "embarking on ground-breaking campaign around the Israeli elections."

By January, One Voice and V15 had linked up and were operating out of side-by-side offices in Tel Aviv. V15's sole goal was the defeat of Netanyahu.

V15 hired President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign director, Jeremy Bird, to run a get-out-the-vote effort to defeat the prime minister.

"It just strikes me that this is just too cute by half," Rove said. "They give them money. They announce the group, then announce it's going to embark on a ground-breaking effort around the Israeli elections and partner up with a group that has one goal, which is the defeat of the sitting prime minister of Israel. That is stinky."

Over the weekend, Netanyahu said foreign governments were pouring money into the elections to defeat him, but did not mention the United States.

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A Senate subcommittee is investigating whether a $350,000 State Department grant to a U.S. nonprofit was used to try to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tuesday's Israeli election, Fox News reports.
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2015-13-16
Monday, 16 Mar 2015 09:13 PM
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