Absentee ballot bill to be voted on

Vote puts Likud and Israel Beiteinu at odds with Shas and Labor.

February 14, 2010 06:01
1 minute read.
Israelis vote in Knesset election

Israelis vote . (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

Likud and Israel Beiteinu officials expressed confidence on Saturday night that they would succeed in passing the bill that would enable expatriate Israelis to vote abroad when it comes to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.

Shas and Labor oppose the bill, but Likud and Israel Beiteinu ministers’ support would be enough to make it a government measure.

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The current version of the legislation, sponsored by Israel Beiteinu MK Alex Miller, would allow any Israeli passport-holder around the world to vote. But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser on Thursday to consult with the parties in the coalition about how to diminish the bill’s scope.

“People who live abroad and don’t intend to come back within a reasonable period of time should not decide our fate,” Netanyahu told Hauser, according to a source in the Prime Minister’s Office. “But there are people who are abroad temporarily, and they shouldn’t be punished for it.”

Netanyahu said the period of time for expatriates to be allowed to be abroad while maintaining the right to vote should be four to six years, enough to allow them to obtain two academic degrees. He also suggested that expatriates be required to visit Israel to prove their connection to the state.

An Israel Beiteinu spokesman said the bill could not be changed before Sunday but it would likely be amended during the legislative process. There is a possibility that the vote on the bill could be delayed until a compromise between the factions could be found.

“Don’t expect there to be any drama regarding the vote Sunday,” coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin said.

The ministerial committee will also vote on another controversial bill, proposed by Elkin, which would require organizations to reveal if they received donations from foreign governments.

The bill is expected to pass in the committee.

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