PM: We’ll let Israelis vote abroad
Netanyahu tells Likud faction his government plans to submit bill allowing every Israeli citizen to vote for Knesset from anywhere worldwide. ‘It will contribute to the connection and to Israel’s strength,’ he says.
As Dimi correctly notes, this is another subterfuge to reinforce the strength of the Israeli Jewish vote in the demographic battle with the Israeli Palestinian minority. It could also impact a decision to incorporate large portions of occupied territory with Palestinian population into Israel proper (like the area between the Wall and the Green Line. Avigdor Lieberman, whose idea this is, has also proposed ridding Israel of some of its Arab minority by declaring some of their territory de facto part of a new Palestinian state, while granting Israel the right to annex large portions of the Territories that contain settlers. This is yet another example of how the Kahanist right has inserted its far-right ideology into the political mainstream. I call it “transfer-lite.” The beauty of the voting proposal is Yvette can characterize it as a democratic reform that gives all Israeli citizens the right to a voice in their country’s affairs. It’s quite a coup for those who really are anything but democrats.
But as Reider points out, they are playing with fire. Because just as Israeli “refugees” may be allowed to vote in domestic elections, so too will Israeli Palestinian refugees apply for the same privileges. The fact that they were expelled from Israel and so denied their right to Israeli citizenship, which was granted to all their remaining fellow Israeli Palestinians, will likely not hold up in a legal setting. If the Israeli Supreme Court denies these individuals citizenship, then surely an International Court will find against Israel. Then the Palestinian refugees will assert their legitimate right.
Taken to its most extreme, the coalition could propose that even Diaspora Jews should take Israeli citizenship and vote in elections. Maybe they can even expedite it by having online applications: become an Israeli citizen from the comfort of your own home!
Similarly, settler extremists who are trying to render East Jerusalem Arab-rein by expropriating Arab property with the claim that it once belonged to Jews, are playing with fire. It will only be a very short matter of time before Palestinian refugee families expelled from their homes in Katamon, Rehavya, and Talpiot will lodge claims in Israeli or international courts for recognition of their deeds. What will the radical rightists do then? Will they argue that Jewish deeds are valid while Arab deeds aren’t? Well, if they had their druthers they’d merely say that Jews have such rights while Palestinians don’t. That anti-democratic approach might play well in their circles and even among the majority of Israelis, but it won’t play in Peoria, that is the rest of the world.
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