'Allowing Israelis to vote abroad anti-democratic'

Authors, former ministers sign petition against "Omri Casspi Bill," saying PM is using it to quell opposition.

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April 1, 2012 16:20
1 minute read.
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Allowing Israelis abroad to vote is cynical and anti-democratic, a group of intellectuals wrote in a letter sent on Sunday to President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Supreme Court President Asher Dan Grunis and Knesset faction chairmen.

The letter was written in protest of a new version of the “Omri Casspi Bill” that cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser is considering. The bill would allow Israelis to vote in their first four years abroad, after registering at a consulate and declaring that they intend to return to Israel.

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Authors Amos Oz and Yoram Kaniuk, Jerusalem Cinematheque founder Lia Van Leer, Prof. Sammy Smooha, Prof. Ze’ev Sternhal, former ministers Shulamit Aloni and Yair Saban, and others signed the letter.

According to the letter, the Netanyahu government is reaching “new heights of anti-democratic cynicism” with the new bill, which will “trample Israeli democracy” and is meant to quell any opposition.

In addition, the letter claims that such a bill would encourage Jews abroad to get Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, even if they do not really intend to live in Israel.

The signatories expressed concern that voters from abroad will decide whether or not a prime minister who will attack nuclear sites in Iran is chosen, even though they will not suffer the consequences.

“An organized group of Jews from the Diaspora will determine from afar how Israelis will live their lives,” the letter reads. “Netanyahu is already encouraging such an influence through money, propaganda and free newspapers, and apparently as the prime minister of AIPAC,” referring to pro-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

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“This idea is the end of Zionism,” the petition reads.

Similar legislation was discussed by the government last year, and was nicknamed the Omri Casspi Bill for the first Israeli to play in the NBA. Casspi still lives abroad.

The coalition agreement between the Likud and Israel Beiteinu requires that absentee voting be put to a vote. However, Shas has threatened to take advantage of its coalition agreement with the Likud, which gives every party in the coalition a veto on bills that would change the electoral system.

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