Egyptians in Israel vote despite criticism

Egyptians living in Israel on Monday continued to cast their votes in the first Egyptian presidential election since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, despite some demanding that they be prevented from voting.

On Thursday, the Conservative Party announced that efforts were being made to file a lawsuit against the Interior Ministry to force it to revoke Egyptian citizenship from Egyptians residing in Israel or those who have become naturalized Israeli citizens, and for it to prevent them from voting in the presidential election.

In a statement on Thursday, Conservative Party head Akmal Qurtam said that the voting of Egyptians in Israel opens up a window for Israeli intervention in the Egyptian presidential election as it will have an "Egyptian Lobby" which it can pressure in order to influence and interfere in the election results.

A diplomatic source at the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Monday that around 99 Egyptians had registered on the embassy voter rolls.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Egyptian community in Israel cannot be prevented from participating in the elections without a court ruling.

“Any Egyptian can cast his vote, as long as there is no decision against this,” said the source. “No one can prevent an Egyptian from exercising his right and constitutional duty.”

The total number of Egyptians living in Israel is unknown, especially since some have no national ID number and therefore cannot vote.

Egyptian businessman Ragi Faragallah, who lives in Israel, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that his wife carries an Israeli passport despite her Palestinian ID, and that he lives with her in Israel.

With regard to demands that they be prevented from voting, Faragallah said, “These are dim-witted demands. We are Egyptians, no matter where we live, whether in Israel or America or any country, we are Egyptians regardless of place of residence.”

“We went to our embassy’s headquarters in Tel Aviv and we cast our votes; this is not a source of any embarrassment to us,” said Faragallah adding that he did not and will not give up his Egyptian identity.

Shukri al-Shazli, head of the Association of Egyptians in Israel, said, “Democracy and freedom are indivisible; we are here because our wives are Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship.”

He went on to say that it was the media’s responsibility to raise awareness concerning this issue.

“We brought attention to the fact that there are Palestinians on whom the Jewish State’s nationality was imposed as they are the owners of the land and they refused to leave it,” he said. “It is not our fault if many people in Arab countries do not know this.”

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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