Knesset speaker calls for voting rights for Israelis overseas


Yoni Hersch and Eli Leon,
Image from article, with caption: Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (left) is interviewed by Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth at the IAC conference | Photo: Perry Bindelglass
Speaking at Israeli-American Council conference, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also says it is "high time" haredim accept compromise on IDF draft law • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emphasizes importance of maintaining bipartisan U.S. support for Israel.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday that it was his hope that in the future Israelis living overseas would be able to vote in Israeli elections.
"When I was minister of Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] and Diaspora Affairs, I said that I didn't think that Israel should be different from France or Russia or the United States, where citizens vote in their embassies. I hope that this legislation will finally pass," Edelstein said in an interview with Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth at the Israeli-American Council's annual conference in Hollywood, Florida.
Edelstein also commented on the contentious IDF draft bill over which ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas have threatened to leave the coalition government. The parties are demanding that yeshiva students be given a blanket exemption from mandatory military service.
"It's high time to accept a compromise," he said. "The bill was prepared by the Defense Ministry. The haredim can live with it. Seriously, it's not about all the haredim going to the army. It's about them joining the labor force in Israel and starting to contribute to the economy. Our future depends on it."
Edelstein also commented on the recent resignation of Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister and the withdrawal of his Yisrael Beytenu party from the ruling coalition, leaving the government with a narrow one-seat majority.
Edelstein said he believes there are certain advantages to a smaller coalition, and with only 61 MKs in the coalition, the Knesset will only be able to approve "good legislation" rather than divisive or extremist bills.
On the possibility of early elections, Edelstein said the coalition will be able to survive to the end of its term – November 2019 – if the lawmakers remain disciplined.
Also at the conference, American-Israeli billionaire Haim Saban interviewed House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who emphasized the importance of maintaining bipartisan support for the Jewish state.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said President Donald Trump's administration is the most pro-Israel U.S. government in history. He said he was hoping those in attendance at the conference could see that support exists for Israel on both sides of the political aisle, including from Democratic congressional leaders.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who addressed the conference on Sunday, posted on Twitter saying he was honored to have spoken at the conference.
"America stands with Israel. We stand with Israel because her cause is our cause. Her values are our values. Her fight is our fight," he wrote.
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