(photo credit: Courtesy)
Some Israelis living abroad who are not emissaries of the state and its institutions will have the right to vote in Israeli elections for the first time, if a bill a Likud MK submitted last week becomes law.
All coalition partners agreed to support absentee balloting legislation in April, but one was not submitted until now. The measure – proposed by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) – would limit absentee balloting to citizens who are on the Interior Ministry’s voting rolls and who voted in the previous election. This system would prevent those who have been abroad for many years or are not strongly connected to Israel from voting.
“Countless Israelis are abroad at any given point in time, whether for traveling, studies or work,” Kisch said.
“The current reality prevents them from expressing their democratic right to vote, and this bill is intended to fix that.”
Kisch is a former El Al pilot who traveled abroad constantly for work before entering politics.
Originally proposed by former foreign minister Moshe Arens, absentee balloting bills have been proposed in every Knesset by MKs from the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu.
With the backing of 67 MKs from the coalition and Yisrael Beytenu, the bill could easily pass into law.
Netanyahu has supported absentee balloting for 20 years. In the past, the Likud has supported limiting such legislation to Israelis who have been abroad for less than five years. Shas, however, wanted it only for those who were abroad for less than two months.
Likud officials said that when the coalition agreement was drafted, the parties in the coalition would work together to set criteria that would permit these Israelis to vote. “This clause is intended to bring Israel in line with dozens of other Western countries that have adapted their laws to the global nature of the economy,” a Likud source said.
“There are too many Israelis who happen to be abroad when elections are called and are prevented from voting. Right now, Israelis who have lived abroad for 30 years can vote if they have money to fly in, but students abroad temporarily who can’t afford to come cannot. This bill will bring our law into the 21st century.”