Shaul Mofaz looking left 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz tarnished a rally at the Knesset devoted to opposing voting overseas on Monday when he came out in favor of allowing select Israelis abroad to cast ballots.
Mofaz's rival, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, noticeably rolled her eyes as he came out against her position and that of most of Kadima.
"I am against saying that everyone who lives abroad can vote," Mofaz said. "On the other hand, it's different when people fulfill their duty to Israel - pay taxes, serve in the army, have their kids serve in the army, bear the burden.
"People who leave for a short period of time should not lose their right to vote and shouldn't have to pay $1,000 to fly here."
MK Avi Dichter, also from Kadima, said that even though he was against the current version of the Israel Beiteinu-sponsored bill, which would allow anyone with an Israeli passport to cast a ballot overseas, he saw no problem with changing the law so to allow Israelis who go abroad for medical treatment to vote.
Prior to Mofaz and Dichter, Livni and several other Kadima MKs spoke strongly against the bill, calling it cynical and anti-Zionist.
Speaking under a banner with the slogan "Voting only in Israel," she mocked Israel Beiteinu for talking about loyalty to the state while proposing a bill to allow people who do not live in the country to vote.
"This is not a political struggle," Livni said. "It's struggle about who is Zionist and who can decide our future. We live in a country where people must pay a dramatic price to vote while in other places, elections are just about things like taxes. Decisions are made here about peace and God forbid war."
The Knesset's electoral reform committee will work to moderate the bill and limit it over the next month. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he wanted to limit the bill to Israelis abroad for up to five years.
"I was happy to hear that Netanyahu has started mumbling and surrendering," Livni said. "I was pleased to see the start of him surrendering, but we will continue until his folding is complete."
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman later lashed out at the way the Hebrew press was covering the legislation, which it has called the "the bill of the yordim" - a negative word for Israelis who have left the country.
"They are twisting reality and trying to deceive the public," Lieberman said. "The bill would enable the voting of thousands of Israelis studying abroad, professors on sabbaticals and vacationers."
Lieberman, who met later with Mofaz, said that in a system of
government in which it is impossible to predict the election date, it
was impossible to plan trips abroad around when an election could take
place. He noted that Netanyahu missed the 1977 election because he was
studying in the US.
"Terrorists and spies sit here in jail and vote and no one complains,"
Lieberman said. "There has been too much wild incitement that is
intended to twist the goal of the bill and to harm Israel Beiteinu."