Danon allegedly paid off Likud activists for primary support
Israel Television News Company report alleges UN Ambassador Danon took control of non-profit, created fictitious jobs for Likud activists and their children in order to win their support in Likud primaries; Danon said to have paid millions in wages from public funds, donations; 'False, tendentious claims,' counters Danon.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon reportedly used public funds and donations to create a mechanism of paying millions of shekels in "salaries" to dozens of Likud activists and their families in return for supporting him in the party's primaries, according to an investigative report aired by the Israel Television News Company Monday, which cited letters, emails and recordings.
Danon, who serves as the World Likud chairman, allegedly used his power in the organization to take hold of a non-profit organization called Making Zionism ("Osim Tzionut") and placed his confidant Yaakov Hagoel at its helm.
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL) allegedly funneled vast sums into Making Zionism, especially during 2014, the year primaries in the Likud were held.
The Making Zionism non-profit launched a project dubbed "Cluster Coordinators" to spread the values of Zionism the world over, with each coordinator paid several thousand shekels. One of the coordinators was Shiran Megidish, the daughter of a member of the Likud Central Committee—the party's executive arm—from Kiryat Gat. "My dad is a well-known Likud activist, so they contacted him," Megidish said.
Another coordinator, M., who's a Likud member from the northern region, said, "Some months you make a bit of money as an afterthought. I generally almost didn't do anything. I just copied and pasted everything I got and was paid for it."
Shimon Assulin, a Central Committee member from Ashkelon, explained how the mechanism worked. "They're mostly guys who are somewhat close to (Danon), love him and want to see him do well for himself. He helps them (in return). They're usually Central Committee or branch members or one of their sons who goes to university. (Danon) gives them that and expects their help down the line," Assulin detailed.
Chairman of the Likud's Acre branch Rotem Ohana provided further explanation. "Did they find you through your father? Then your father is going to have to deliver," he stated plainly.
Likud activist Elhanan Raziel elucidated on his part in the system. "I've been with (Danon) over three primary elections. I'm responsible for more than one thousand Likud members. They told me, 'If you get 150 more new members for Danny in 2014, we'll appoint you head of the Muslim and Turkish-speaking countries department and give you four paid coordinator positions. I agreed. Danny's still involved with it now as UN ambassador," he claimed.
Those failing to cooperate with the system, the report claimed, quickly found themselves ousted. "I still work there as a coordinator but at a much smaller capacity. The formal reason was cutbacks. The informal one is that my political prowess must not have been enough for them," said Likud activist Dudi Eliyahu.
A response on behalf of Danny Danon said: "These are false, tendentious claims intended to damage the work of Ambassador Danon. It's no coincidence that the claims were made on the eve of a historic event organized by Ambassador Danon marking the 70th anniversary of November 29 (the UN voting on the Partition Plan) in order to impugn this important endeavor."
"The widespread appreciation and support Ambassador Danon enjoys among wide publics in both Israel and the world was created by professional, dedicated work and despite many attempts to question his activities. For more than 20 years, Ambassador Danon has been on the forefront of public relations for the State of Israel and doubly so over the past two years, as Israel's ambassador to the UN," Danon's comment said.