Edelstein: Israelis abroad should be permitted to vote

Knesset Speaker speaks at festive plenary at the IAC National Conference in Miami.

Yoni Kempinski, Miami,

IAC National Conference
IAC National Conference
Arutz Sheva

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Saturday night at the Israeli American Council (IAC) 2018 National Conference that Israel should not be taken for granted.

“71 years ago, there was that decision in New York about the creation of the Jewish state. Israel is the baby of every Jew in the world, and that’s why speakers before us on this stage mentioned how passionate Israelis are when they talk about Israel. That’s why the spirit we see here from young people is very emotional. We shouldn’t take Israel for granted,” he said in a chat with Israel Hayom editor Boaz Bismuth.

Edelstein opined that Israelis living abroad should be permitted to vote in elections as citizens of other countries do.

“When I was Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, I said that I don’t think that Israel should be different from France or Russia or the United States where citizens vote in their embassies. I hope that finally this legislation will pass.”

Asked by Bismuth whether the controversial Draft Law will bring down the coalition, Edelstein replied, “It’s high time to accept the compromise. The bill was prepared by the Defense Ministry. The haredim can live with it. Seriously speaking, it’s not about all the haredim going to the army. It’s about them joining the labor force in Israel, starting to contributing to the economy. This is our future.”

On the question of whether he will continue as Knesset Speaker after the next election, he said, “First we have to win the elections. Even before that we have primaries in the Likud. There are primary elections, there are general elections, we have to make sure that Netanyahu is prime minister, and only then will we quarrel about positions in the government.”

On the situation in southern Israel, Edelstein said, “I promise you the answer will be there and the answer is already there. We have F-35s. We have the best pilots in the world, but we won’t bomb Gaza because someone sent a kite. We have to make sure that the citizens of the south don’t suffer. I think Hamas received the message in the last round very well, and that’s why we’re seeing less attacks these days.”

Edelstein was also asked about the situation on Israel’s northern border, where Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been threatening Israel. He noted in this context that the US-imposed sanctions on Iran are working.

“Last time I checked Israel doesn’t have a border with Iran, but Iran seems to have a border with Israel. I travel a lot to meet my counterparts around the world, and they all talk to me about the sanctions and the Trump administration’s position. My answer is always the same: We can have some strategic conversation about whether the sanctions will work. For us, as we speak, Iran has less funds because of the sanctions. As we speak, Iran is less able to send money to its forces in Syria and Lebanon and this is coming as a direct result of the sanctions.”

Finally, the Knesset Speaker was asked by Bismuth about recent tensions between Israel and US Jews, particularly surrounding the conversion laws and prayer at the Western Wall.

“Every Jew has the right to speak about Israel. Having said that, I don’t know what this influence is. We can listen. I think the Israeli government has to take into consideration the implications of certain decisions on Diaspora Jewry. But the first responsibility of any democratic government, including Israel, is to take care of the well-being of its citizens,” he said.

“I think that some mistakes have been made. I spoke about it loud and clear. I think that in many arguments that we hear we are misplacing theological arguments with political arguments. The Kotel is the best example. It’s not about theology, it’s about politics, and in politics you can always find a compromise. We have to take into consideration that a lot of Jews in the world feel there is a problem with how the State of Israel treats them.”


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