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Cabinet secretary mulls bill allowing expats to vote (JERUSALEM POST) By LAHAV HARKOV 03/25/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=263335 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Hauser is reviewing a policy paper on the topic, and has yet to bring it to the cabinet´s table for review, the Prime Minister´s Office said on Sunday.

The paper, by the Jewish People Policy Institute, recommends legislation that would allow Israelis to vote in their first four years abroad, after registering at an Israeli consulate and declaring that they intend to return to Israel.

Similar legislation was discussed by the government last year, and was nicknamed the "Omri Casspi Bill" for the first Israeli to play in the NBA.

Of the roughly 700,000 Israeli expatriates, most of whom are in the US and Russia, about 50,000 consider Israel the center of their lives, and would account for an estimated two MKs.

The current law only allows diplomatic officials, Jewish Agency workers and sailors to vote from outside of Israel.

Hauser told Army Radio over the weekend that he favors such a policy, which would be targeted at "the heart surgeon in a continuing education program abroad, the university student in the US, the El-Al pilot. Their right to vote exists; the problem is with implementing that right."

In addition, Hauser said that many Israelis abroad contribute to Israel´s economy during their time abroad, and that such a law would strengthen their connection to Israel.

"This is a bigger issue than voting – it is about defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People," he added.

Absentee voting is part of the coalition agreement between Likud and Israel Beiteinu, which requires that the matter be put to a vote. However, Shas has threatened to take advantage of that same agreement, which gives every party in the coalition the ability to veto bills on changes in the electoral system.

Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich came out against the proposal on Saturday night, calling it "anti-Zionist" and saying it "spits in the face of citizens of Israel who are partners in building the state who face constant dangers, serve in the army and pay taxes."

According to Yacimovich, Israel Beiteinu is trying to increase its political power by harming Israeli democracy.

Earlier this year, television personality turned aspiring politician Yair Lapid took a stand against the "Omri Casspi Bill" on his Facebook page.

“Israel is a country whose existence is constantly threatened, so people who don’t live here shouldn’t be able to vote on issues like its borders, bombing Iran, or the settlements,” Lapid wrote. “You cannot decide the direction of the country if you don’t have to live with the consequences.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/25/12)

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