Story-ideas-1011172

Did Obama try to undermine Bibi in election?

  • Bibi-Obama
Israeli political strategist group, Victory-15 (V15), may have illegally used US taxpayers’ money to try to replace the Netanyahu government, US media are reporting. Non-profit, OneVoice Movement, which had access to $350 000 of State Department grants, has come under scrutiny by the Senate, since its Israel arm became a partner with V15 to mobilize voters to bring about change in Israel. of the two US senators who brought the matter to a head, Texas Republican Ted Cruz, yesterday became the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election.
by ANT KATZ and VANESSA VALKIN | Mar 25, 2015

Beyond that, Jeremy Bird, a key strategist behind President Obama’s presidential campaigns from Chicago in 2012, was consulting for V15.

V15 Ted CruzRepublican from Texas, Senator Ted Cruz, (PICTURED RIGHT) who has just announced his bid for the 2016 Presidential campaign, expressed outrage last week over the issue and pointed to mounting indications that the Obama administration could be implicated in efforts to meddle in the Israeli election.

Cruz also pointed to Jeremy Bird’s involvement. “This is manifesting itself right now in President [Barack] Obama’s national field director helping run the campaign to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said Cruz.

Ted Cruz and another Republican senator from New York, Lee Zeldin, sent a letter in late January to Secretary of State John Kerry, asking whether OneVoice - as a recipient of the  $350 000 in grants - had violated its tax-exempt status when it began backing the anti-Netanyahu V15 campaign in Israel.

Cruz also publicly asked whether Obama had “launched a political campaign” against the Israeli leader in the run-up to the election.

“What does it say about the president of the United States when he’s more concerned about undermining and attacking the prime minister of Israel than he is standing up to the mortal threat a nuclear Iran poses?” said Cruz.

OneVoice quickly brushed off claims from critics that its backing of V15 meant it was targeting Netanyahu. Such an effort would be illegal under its tax-exempt status.

However, reported Fox News, just five days after the public dispatch of the Cruz-Zeldin letter, a “corporation service company” registered a new funding entity in Delaware called PeaceWorks Action, Inc under a section of the tax code that still governs non-profits, but allows them to engage in a limited amount of political activity.

Bibi-Obama


LEFT: Jeremy Bird, a key strategist behind President Obama’s presidential campaigns


PeaceWorks Action, Inc. is now featured on the OneVoice website as one of OneVoice’s funders, alongside PeaceWorks Foundation, which holds the same tax status as OneVoice itself.

Launched in 2002 by snack bar mogul Daniel Lubetzky, OneVoice says it works towards achieving a two-state solution in the Middle East and believes - in a reflection of Obama’s thinking, but counter to Netanyahu’s - that Israel’s 1967 borders should form a starting point for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Against this backdrop, the State Department awarded OneVoice the $350 000 in grant money in 2013.

After Netanyahu's win, V15 co-founder Nimrod Dweck said in an interview with Ronan Farrow aired on MSNBC's "Jose Diaz-Balart" that "not a single cent" of State Department or taxpayer money had gone to their campaign.

"These are false allegations and they have nothing to do with reality," Dweck said.

American strategists have for decades signed on to work in Israeli political campaigns, with Democrats usually aligned with the Labour Party and Republicans often backing Netanyahu’s Likud. There is no evidence to suggest that Obama or any of his senior aides had anything to do with the move by Bird, who has never worked at the White House, to join the effort to defeat Netanyahu.

Prior to this month’s elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies in Israel, had unsuccessfully sought a court injunction against V15, arguing it was violating Israeli election law by accepting foreign donations. Likud withdrew the request, citing difficulty in proving the charge.

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