Israelis living abroad may soon vote for the Knesset

The majority of the Knesset is expected to be in favor of allowing Israelis living abroad to vote in national elections. 

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

An initiative to enable Israelis living abroad to vote for the Knesset gained a prominent source of support on Monday when Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein gave his endorsement, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Edelstein lent his support to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s initiative, which was recently approved by Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog.

“I don’t see why Israel should be different from the United States, France or Russia,” Edelstein told the Post. “Anyone who says enabling Israelis abroad to vote will have a huge political impact that will shift elections doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Edelstein predicted that only some 30,000 of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living outside of the country would make the effort to vote. Even if all Israelis abroad would vote in unison for Likud, his party, it would alter the election results only by one mandate, he said.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told the Post that he opposed the initiative. “It must be voting in polling stations here that decides whether missiles will fall on our homes here. Other countries don’t face the same threats here. Voting must be limited to those who are here taking part in the mission of the state.”

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The Post quoted Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay as saying that on principle he does not like the idea of letting Israelis abroad vote, and he thinks the majority of his party would agree with him.

Netanyahu said in last Sunday’s cabinet meeting that now is the time to advance the program, following Herzog’s endorsement.

The proposal is expected to receive a majority in the Knesset.