Bill expanding amount of emissaries who can vote abroad progresses

About 400 more people will be able to vote in the next national election, should the bill become law.

January 7, 2014 19:33
1 minute read.
Counting ballots of soldiers and absentees, January 24, 2013.

Counting ballots 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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A bill to allow emissaries abroad to vote in national elections at Israeli embassies was approved on Tuesday for its final Knesset vote.

The law currently permits emissaries who are direct employees of the Jewish Agency, World Zionist Organization, Jewish National Fund or Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal and their families to vote while abroad.

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The Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee authorized for its second and third (final) reading an initiative by coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) and MK David Tsur (Hatnua) that would allow emissaries trained by those organizations who are considered employees of schools, Jewish communities and other bodies to vote at Israeli delegations overseas. About 400 more people would be able to vote in the next national election, should the bill become law.

According to the Jewish Agency, the people who fall under the bill should be considered official emissaries, as they are chosen and trained by the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization, even if they are paid by someone else.

“These emissaries are denied the right to vote, unlike official representatives of the State of Israel and compared to other Jewish Agency workers abroad,” the bill’s explanatory portion reads.

“This bill is meant to fix this injustice and have Jewish Agency emissaries that are not employees included in the list of people who can vote abroad.”

In January, several Jewish Agency emissaries complained to The Jerusalem Post that they unknowingly surrendered their right to vote by going abroad to represent the country.

Giyora Lev, who served as an emissary with his wife, Sharon, in Gothenburg, Sweden, called the current policy undemocratic.

“We didn’t know when we were sent abroad that we wouldn’t be able to vote,” explained Lev, who was trained by the Jewish Agency and is an emissary of both the World Zionist Organization and Bnei Akiva. “It was very clear to me that as emissaries, we should be allowed to.”

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