Absentee Voting Bill Designed to Reduce Influence of Arab Israelis, Meretz Leader Warns

Zehava Galon calls on opposition lawmakers to renounce their support for the bill, saying it will give undue influence to Israelis who don't live in the country.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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A screenshot from Netanyahu's Election Day, March 17, 2015 Facebook video warning supporters that Arabs were voting in "droves."
A screenshot from Netanyahu's Election Day, March 17, 2015 Facebook video warning supporters that Arabs were voting in "droves." Credit: Screenshot
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Meretz leader Zehava Galon sharply attacked proposed legislation to introduce absentee voting for Knesset elections on Monday, saying that its ultimate goal was to "reduce the influence of Israel's Arab citizens on the results of the next election."

Knesset members from both sides of the aisle are collaborating on the bill, which would enable any citizen who is registered to vote and is in possession of the requisite form to vote at any Israeli embassy or consulate abroad.

The coalition agreement of the current government includes support for such a bill. As a result, it is likely to have an automatic Knesset majority. The bill is also supported by at least some opposition lawmakers.

Describing the bill as an "ostensibly limited proposal," Galon warned opposition members who supported it that they were lending a hand to a "slippery slope that will ultimately legitimize giving the vote to Israelis living abroad."

She called on supporters of the bill from the opposition to renounce their support. "It's inconceivable that people for whom Israel is not the center of their lives should be able to influence government policies without bearing the consequences," she said.

"The significance is that one out of every seven voters, who does not pay taxes in Israel, doesn't serve in the military reserves and whose children don't learn in the school system, will be able to sit in Los Angeles and push Israel into wars or toward a peace process – in which he risks nothing and for which he won't bear the consequences."

Galon added that, "the eight million citizens living in the state of Israel have the full right to determine their future and don't need to be influenced from the outside."

"Senior Likudniks acknowledge without shame," Galon said, that "the real purpose of the proposal is to lessen the ability of Israel's Arab citizens to influence the results of the next elections. That is not something that the left can accept or support."