Former PM Benjamin Netanyahu
Former PM Benjamin NetanyahuReuters

It was Yinon Magal, a prominent figure in Israeli media, who launched the crowdfunding initiative to raise money to cover part of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal expenses. Just a few days into the campaign, it is well over half way to reaching its goal, but questions have been raised regarding whether it is actually permitted to either collect the money in the first place, or to hand it over to Netanyahu.

“I have spoken with several senior legal experts in the Knesset,” Magal relates. “What the law says on such matters is that a Knesset member must request permission in advance to fundraise, but in this case, we didn’t ask Netanyahu at all before we started raising money on his behalf.

“That’s why we hope that when Netanyahu approaches the Ethics Committee and asks [for permission to receive the funding], they will agree – in fact, we won’t take no for an answer,” Magal stresses. “We want to give him the money and we won’t accept a situation in which they don’t let him.”

He is optimistic that the Ethics Committee will see things his way. “The common-sense approach is that the committee will realize that this isn’t a case of Netanyahu fundraising himself; what we decided was in no way coordinated with him. We decided of our own accord to fundraise – and it was a very significant decision to make,” he notes. “We’re talking about millions of shekels that will help him [with his legal efforts] and provide him with a substantial sum of money going into the future.”

The campaign is already nearing its goal of five million shekels; as of Thursday morning, it had garnered over 3.5 million. “I call on everyone to continue to donate,” says Magal. “Don’t fall for all the spins you’re hearing in the media. The campaign is continuing and getting closer to its goal. Whether you give one shekel, 18 shekels, or 5000, please give. We know we have justice on our side, and we are standing behind Netanyahu. We won’t let him walk alone.”

25,721 people have donated so far, raising 3,530,182 shekels. Some of the surprising names among the donors are MK Bezalel Smotrich, Shmulik Silman (the husband of Yamina MK and coalition chair Idit Silman), and Rabbi Tzvi Tau.

Speaking earlier this week, Netanyahu thanked all those who made donations, saying, “Thank you to all of you, so many Israeli citizens, for the incredible support and amazing love you’ve shown in the last few days. Your warm-hearted response has truly touched me and my family.”