Some 750,000 Israelis who live abroad could end up participating in Israel’s next election if certain Knesset members get their way. Those living abroad would be able to vote at Israel’s embassies or consulates around the world for the first time since the Jewish state’s establishment.

About half of these Israelis live either in the United States of Canada, and some estimates place the number at around 1 million. Of those, an estimated 300,000 live in the Los Angeles area, making it the largest Israeli community outside Israel.

This question arises every few years, and several bills were introduced on the matter in the past decade. Some of these bills passed preliminary votes in the Knesset, only to be shot down by the government.

This time, the effort looks more serious than ever because Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, the incoming foreign minister, made allowing Israelis living abroad to vote a condition for his entering Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

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Many in the Israeli political establishment believe Mr. Lieberman pressed for this condition in order to allow the some 200,000 Russians, who came to Israel in the early ’90s, only to leave the Jewish state, to vote for him. This speculation could have a solid basis because a substantial number of Russian immigrants voted for him.

The following statement outlining the deal on the expected resolution was released:

“The government shall formulate a bill that will provide for Israelis residing overseas on election day to vote under conditions agreed to by the various factions. This bill shall be placed on the Knesset’s agenda within a year after the government is sworn in.”

Incoming finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, passed on a recommendation to Mr. Netanyahu to safeguard the legislation this past weekend.

“Every citizen who resides overseas and who visited the country in the past 36 months prior to the elections or visited the country at least once since the previous elections, will be allowed to vote in the Knesset elections in ballot boxes that will be available in Israel’s embassies and consulates overseas,” he wrote.

Mr. Steinitz claims the bill will increase voter turnout.

“The bill will strengthen the bond and affinity of Israelis residing overseas who tend to visit Israel,” Mr. Steinitz said. “And will prevent the discrimination that is created between those whose wealth allows them to fly to Israel just to vote in elections, and those who are less wealthy residing in the same place, among them, naturally, many students.”

David Bedein can be reached at


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.