Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Don’t let Israelis vote abroad

Posted by claudiacampli su 18 marzo, 2009

Haaretz

One of the most infuriating sections of the coalition agreement between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu states that the government will promote legislation “that will enable voting by Israelis who are abroad on Election Day, under conditions and criteria that will be agreed upon by the factions that are members of the coalition.”

This is the first time right-wingers are initiating a law that will enable Israelis abroad to vote. Apparently the right wing, which assumes that most of the Israelis living abroad support it, hopes that allowing overseas voting will increase its electoral strength. It also wants to bypass the demographic situation and minimize the electoral power of the Arab community.

Supporters of the proposal compare Israel to large countries like the United States and France, which enable their citizens to vote outside the country, and argue that Israelis traveling or studying abroad should not be punished by being denied their civic right.

But Israel is different from other countries. Relative to its size, many of its citizens live abroad, far more than Americans or Frenchmen. The Law of Return grants all Jews everywhere a right to citizenship, even if they don’t live here. There are many people with Israeli passports living around the world, for whom the country served only as a transit point between their country of origin in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and their present lives in America or Western Europe. Unlike countries like Great Britain or Denmark, Israel does not revoke the citizenship of those who haven’t set foot in the country for many years, nor does it present administrative difficulties such as the requirement to register in order to vote.

Under these circumstances, there is a genuine fear that opening the gates of the polling stations to all those with Israeli citizenship, and to the millions of others eligible to receive it by dint of the Law of Return, could distort the outcome of elections and allow people who don’t live here to determine who will lead those who do – those who bear on their shoulders the hardships, the dangers and the mutual responsibility that life in Israel requires.

Moreover, because of the priority that the Law of Return grants to Jews, sweeping permission to vote abroad will be especially harmful to Arab citizens, few of whom live outside the country. It is difficult not to see the new proposal as yet another initiative aimed at restricting Israeli Arabs. This plan should be shelved.

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