Days after it was revealed that the Shin Bet security agency has intelligence proving that a foreign country intends to influence the April election via online meddling, the Likud party said on Tuesday that it would block proposed measures to prevent such voter manipulation and similar attempts by Israeli internet operatives. Responding to a plea from the Central Elections Committee chairman, Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer, Likud party pushed back against all efforts to apply at least basic transparency standards on online campaigning. That rejection, charged an Israeli expert on internet legislation and election manipulation, appears to signal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party plans to make use of dubious methods that gained prominence in the 2016 US presidential elections.
Writing to Melcer, Likud chief legal adviser Avi Halevy said the party would not agree to pass legislation widening current election propaganda laws to include online content, and would refuse to sign an accord between all parties committing to clearly claim authorship of their online campaign materials.
Following a petition calling to immediately implement measures to prevent manipulation and “fake news,” Melcer had asked that Likud lift its opposition to a bill that would give legal teeth to the Central Elections Committee, the body in charge of managing the national ballot, in order to prevent online meddling that “could pose a direct threat to the Israel’s democracy.”