JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (JTA) — A Knesset bill that would allow Israelis living abroad to vote in national elections has sparked a political storm. The bill, which passed 22-17 in a preliminary reading on Wednesday, would allow Israelis abroad who hold valid passports to cast ballots in the vote for prime minister and Knesset. The bill’s sponsor, Likud Knesset member Reuven Rivlin, argued that in effect, the bill served a Zionist cause by strengthening ties between Israel and world Jewry and by perhaps drawing expatriates back to the country. Moledet Knesset member Binyamin Alon said the bill would increase the number of voting Jews. But strong condemnations of the bill came from the left-wing opposition, whose members said the effect would be the reverse by encouraging Israelis to emigrate. Labor Knesset faction chair Ra’anan Cohen said the bill was anti-Zionist because it would allow people who do not live in Israel to decide the fate of the country.
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