OneVoice NGO did not use US funds in bid to topple Netanyahu, Senate inquiry finds


The NGO OneVoice did not use U.S. funds in its campaign to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Senate inquiry found, and the State Department did not violate policies by funding the group.

However, the report issued Tuesday suggested the State Department did not adequately assess the risks of funding OneVoice, considering the nongovernmental organization had been involved previously in Israeli electoral politics.

The report by the bipartisan Senate subcommittee on investigations was prompted by revelations that OneVoice, a nonpartisan group that advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, partnered with a partisan group called V15 ahead of the 2015 Israeli election in a bid to replace Netanyahu with a leader more amenable to a two-state outcome.

“OneVoice Israel fully complied with the terms of its State Department grants,” the report said. “OneVoice designed and executed a grassroots and media campaign to promote public support for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations for the Department, as it said it would.”

The subcommittee also “found no evidence that OneVoice spent grant funds to influence the 2015 Israeli elections.” However, the report added, the NGO used “campaign infrastructure and resources built, in part, with State Department grants funds to support V15” once the election season was underway, which fell after the period the grant money was spent and OneVoice’s relationship with the State Department ended.

The report considered more than $300,000 in State Department grants to the Israeli and Palestinian arms of OneVoice “to support peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine over a 14-month grant period ending in November 2014.” Netanyahu called for the election in December.

OneVoice, in a statement to JTA, said the report reflected its compliance with State Department terms and noted the grants in question had the backing of the U.S., Palestinian and Israeli governments.

“The Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. governments all supported the State Department grant that helped to fund One Voice Israel’s work to support peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians,” it said.

In funding OneVoice, the report said, the State Department did not adequately assess the risks of a group that had been politically active in an earlier election.

“Despite OneVoice’s previous political activity in the 2013 Israeli election, the State Department failed to conduct any assessment of the risk that, were an election called, OneVoice would continue its political activities using State-funded resources,” it said.

The State Department “normally” keeps a grant file assessing such risks, it said, but added that the problem was also endemic to State Department policies that do not take into account how grantees might shift to a more partisan posture.

“OneVoice Israel’s conduct fully complied with the terms of its agreements with the State Department and governing grant guidelines,” it said. “The experience under the OneVoice grants, however, reveals the ease with which recipient organizations can repurpose certain public-diplomacy resources for political activities.”

It concluded: “Despite the fact that influencing a foreign election is across a ‘red line’ for U.S. grantees, all of this activity was permissible under Department guidelines and the terms of the grants.”

Jason Alexander meets with Knesset caucus


Former “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander met with a Knesset caucus to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Alexander is in Israel as part of a high-profile delegation of international business leaders and philanthropists under the auspices of OneVoice, an international grass-roots movement working to promote the two-state solution.

The American television star and the rest of the delegation met Monday with the Knesset’s Two-State Solution Caucus. The delegation also is scheduled to meet during its weeklong visit with the OneVoice movement’s Israeli and Palestinian youth activists and to attend a town hall meeting in the West Bank Palestinian city of Kalkilya, according to the organization.

Alexander asked caucus members why pro-settlement Israelis want to be in the West Bank. Labor Party lawmaker Daniel Ben-Simon responded that it is because the land is “biblical.”

Alexander told The Jerusalem Post that humor has no place in the peace process “because someone is always going to be offended.”

OneVoice speaks mistakenly on achieving peace


Again and again, private organizations appear on the scene, promoting agendas designed to advance the peace process in the Middle East. In many cases, their intentions may be good; unfortunately, however, they generally lack a minimal understanding of the situation, and their programs and proposals are based on mistaken assumptions. As a result, their contribution to an easing of the prevailing tension between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is of little or no value.

Let us examine one of these peace efforts.

A recently founded movement that calls itself

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