JERUSALEM (JTA) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will submit a bill that will allow Israelis living or traveling abroad to vote in national elections.
The Israeli leader announced the proposal Monday afternoon, saying the bill “will add to the connection with and to the strength of Israel.”
Israeli citizens now must be in Israel on Election Day and vote in person.
The proposal fulfills a coalition agreement made with Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party.
The members of Netanyahu’s coalition, including members of his own Likud Party, are split on the proposal, with many adding possible criteria. Some examples are whether the citizen living abroad served in the military or serve in the reserves, or visits Israel or pays taxes.
“There are a half-million people who have passports overseas,” Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman, a Labor Party member who lived overseas for more than a decade, told the Jerusalem Post. “I think they have to be here. This bill won’t strengthen Israel — it will weaken Israel.”
Allowing Israelis who live overseas to vote is expected to help right-wing parties. The Absorption Ministry puts the number of Israeli passport holders living abroad at 750,000.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni called the proposal "immoral."
"Elections in Israel are about Israel’s character and future," she said. "Such decisions should lie with those who live here."