Labor, Shas against Israelis voting abroad
Labor faction Chairman Simhon says coalition agreement explicitly bars bill to allow Israelis living abroad to vote in elections. Shas also says bill unacceptable. Opposition also expected from within Likud as Begin, Meridor already said would not support initiative
Will opposition within the coalition topple Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's bid to allow Israelis living abroad to vote in elections? Two parties in the coalition, Labor and Shas, indicated on Tuesday that they intend to oppose the bill Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to place before the Knesset.
The Absorption Ministry estimated that there are currently about 750,000 Israeli citizens living abroad who are believed to be right-leaning at the ballot box.
Labor faction Chairman Shalom Simhon, who conducted the coalition negotiations with Likud, said that his party will fight the bill and will take action to bury it.
According to him, "The Labor Party already made it clear during coalition negotiations that it is opposed to Israelis from abroad voting in elections. The coalition agreement stipulated that such a move would be advanced only with the consensus of all the coalition partners. We plan to fight for our position."
Shas is also expected to oppose the move. Senior party officials mocked Lieberman and indicated that they would support the bill only if it allowed Israelis out of the country only a few months to vote in the elections. However, the haredi party ruled out any flexibility regarding emissaries living abroad, students, and the like.
"As of now, the estimate is that nothing will come of this bill," said a Shas source close to party chairman Minister Eli Yishai. "One must look at where the Lieberman's civil marriage issue is, where the Ukrainian visa issue is, and understand that there are a lot of statements made to the media here."
Shas also said, "If they are clinging to the need to implement the coalition agreements to the letter, let's implement all the agreements. Lieberman perhaps will receive a law in a populist manner, but will not truly receive the vote of Israelis abroad."
Begin and Meridor oppose bill
Lieberman and Netanyahu are also expected to encounter opposition within Likud. Ministers Benny Begin and Dan Meridor have already stated that they are opposed to amending the law, and their voices will likely have significant weight in the public discourse that has arisen surrounding the issue recently.
Kadima is also opposed to the bill. Opposition Chairwoman MK Tzipi Livni implied in a conversation with Ynet that the bill is a bid to sway the election results: "This law would not be an expression of democracy."
"Netanyahu has yielded to Lieberman's demands. This is the same Netanyahu who failed in the previous elections and needed a bloc in order to form a coalition. This initiative is a continuation of the government's efforts to secure a political majority," she said.