Central Election Committee Chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein ruled Friday that a performance given by popular Israeli singer Sarit Hadad at the launch of the Likud-Beiteinu's election campaign was in violation of campaign laws.
Article 17 of the Israel Election Act states that political parties are barred from employing the services of artists as part of their campaign. Anyone found in breach of this article is subject to a fine of NIS 29,000 (roughly $7,800) – or six months in jail.
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Rubinstein reviewed Hadad's participation in the event following several complaints, including one by Yesh Atid, filed after Yedioth Ahronoth revealed that she was paid NIS 80,000 ($21,250) for her performance.
Hadad and Netanyahu (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The Likud-Beiteinu campaign initially rejected the claim, saying that "This was a closed party function meant to boost morale among party members and activists. This was not a public event and therefore is not in violation of the law."
Following Friday's ruling, the joint campaign issued the following statement: "We respect the ruling and will act accordingly. The committee noted that other parties have had artists perform in their events… and that the Elections Act, which was enacted in 1959, should be updated.
"The ruling," the statement continued, "Focused on whether the event was already part of the campaign, which bars the participation of artists. The Likud's position was that the event was a closed party function; but the committee ruled that the media's presence turned it into part of the campaign.
"This decision, which also affected the media and their ability to inform the public about political events, was made without the presence of any media representative in the hearing," the statement said.
The Central Election Committee's brief was referred to the Attorney General's Office for further review. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will have to decide whether the criminal aspects of the violation should be enacted.
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