Bill to allow Jewish Agency emissaries abroad to vote in national elections

Under current regulations, only regular staff and Foreign Ministry workers can cast ballots overseas.

YARIV LEVIN 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Jewish Agency emissaries will be able to vote in national elections at Israeli embassies and consulates, according to a bill approved in a preliminary reading Wednesday.
The bill – proposed by coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) and David Tsur (Hatnua) after they received a letter from an emissary – will ensure that anyone sent abroad by the Jewish Agency will be able to vote in national elections.
Under current regulations, only regular Jewish Agency employees – together with ambassadors, consuls and Foreign Ministry staff abroad – can submit their votes at embassies and consulates. Certain emissaries trained by and affiliated with the Jewish Agency are not considered Jewish Agency employees.
“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.
Dalia Shapira, 20, of Ra’anana, did her National Service in Scarsdale, NY, through the religious-Zionist youth group Bnei Akiva, and was notified that she would not be permitted to vote at the Israeli consulate in New York.
“We [emissaries] all have the same Zionist goal. Why does it matter who we get our salary from?” she asked.
Giyora Lev, who served as an emissary with his wife, Sharon, in Gotheburg, 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.”