The Knesset Ethics Committee should investigate the funding of Vice Premier Shimon Peres' unsuccessful Labor leadership campaign, an assistant to the attorney general said Thursday.
Ran Nezri issued a statement saying that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz was troubled by the existing loophole in the law allowing Knesset members to accrue disproportionately large campaign donations.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, during a routine examination of campaign donations in the previous year, stated in early November 2006 that donations received by Vice Premier Shimon Peres were "improper." He was referring to funds from Peres' bid for Labor party leadership, which he lost to Amir Peretz.
According to Peres' attorneys, the donations, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, were received during a period of the election cycle that has no contribution limits, and therefore, the contributions were legal.
Accordingly, Lindenstrauss did not call for criminal proceedings against the Vice Premier, but did say that "it would be appropriate for Peres to either return the funds or transfer them to the state coffers".
Knesset Member Michael Eitan (Likud) appealed to the attorney general to investigate the issue further. In January, following the comptroller's recommendation, Mazuz announced his intention not to open a criminal investigation against Peres.
Nonetheless, he indicated his opinion that Peres' actions, while within the letter of the law, were not within its spirit.
"The attorney general believes it necessary to fix this loophole, but it is in the hands of the legislators," it continued.