Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his challenger in today’s (December 26) internal Likud election for the party leadership, MK Gideon Sa’ar, each received hundreds of thousands of shekels in campaign contributions from American, British millionaires, the State Comptroller’s Office website revealed on Sunday, December 22.
The Knesset passed a law last year preventing Knesset candidates from raising money from private donations and instead providing public funds for primaries. However, the law does not apply to races for the leadership of a party.
Michigan real estate developer Spencer Partrich, who has donated millions of dollars to Netanyahu’s legal defense, gave the prime minister the maximum contribution of $12,000, as did two relatives. Netanyahu also received large donation from Cherna Moskowitz, who together with her late husband Irving have supported many right-wing and settlers causes in Israel, as well as from several members of the Falic family, who own the Duty Free America chain, which operates over 180 stores at airports and border crossings in the US and Latin America, and are major contributors to the Friends of the IDF (Israeli Military).
Other names that stand out on the list of donors to Netanyahu’s campaign include British real estate magnate Zak Gertler and family members, who recently financed the prime minister’s 70th birthday party, and Jay Zises, a New York-based investment and financial manager who served on the board of Yeshiva University.
Sa’ar has donors from New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Miami. One name that stands out on the list is Dr. Gabi Picker, a former close friend of Netanyahu and his family. There is also Albert Dadon, a Melbourne, Australia businessperson who founded the International Institute for Strategic Leadership Dialogue. The institute held its gala dinner at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem last week. Sa’ar took time out from the campaign trail to be the event’s keynote speaker. The two-state solution is an “illusion” that Netanyahu has perpetuated, Sa’ar said last week speaking at conference in Jerusalem, Sa’ar said. According to him, “Throughout the world they say that a two-state solution remains the path to an agreement. I have to say to you, this is not a position that helps anyone,” adding, “two states is an illusion.” Instead, said Sa’ar, he advocates for a Palestinian entity together with Jordan, east of the Jordan River. Sa’ar criticized Netanyahu for “perpetuating the two-state solution” and making “endless concessions to the Palestinians” over the years, including settlement-building freezes.
Sander Gerber, the chief executive officer of the Hudson Bay Capital multi-billion-dollar hedge fund, gave Sa’ar the maximum donation. Gerber championed laws passed in the US and Israel withholding funds from the Palestinian Authority that were used to fund political prisoners and their families.