A United States Senate report released this week shows that the U.S. State Department sent nearly $350,000 to OneVoice, a group that advocates for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians but was also part of a campaign to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The group received grants from the State Department during 14-month period ending in November 2014, revealed the report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. After the grants ended, OneVoice merged with another Israeli group, Victory 15, and launched a political campaign in Israel to elect “anyone but Bibi” (referring to Netanyahu’s nickname) during the Jewish state’s election in 2015.
The report indicated that the grants from the State Department helped OneVoice build its organization and expand its social media advocacy, but there is no evidence suggesting that OneVoice used the money specifically to influence the Israeli elections. Yet the report found that “despite OneVoice’s previous political activism in the 2013 Israeli election, the [State] Department failed to take any steps to guard against the risk that OneVoice could engage in political activities using State-funded grassroots campaign infrastructure after the grant period.”
“The United States should not be engaged in that kind of activity with taxpayer dollars,” said the chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), Fox News reported.
“What [the State Department funding] did, probably, was to make it even more difficult to come together after the election and continue to build on the relationship between Israel and the United States,” he said.