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Likud Minister Meridor Thwarts Bill to Safeguard Golan Heights

Dan Meridor ran on the Likud slate last year with a stated position contradicting the party’s promise to keep the Golan. He has not given up.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/27/2009, 11:49 PM / Last Update: 10/28/2009, 6:33 AM

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Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor (Likud) used his ministerial power Tuesday to hold up a bill that would require a referendum on any surrender of the strategic Golan Heights. His move set off a storm of protest among Golan leaders, who charged that the minister is trying to torpedo the bill because of his political stand, despite his expressed concerns for international relations.

 

As a minister, he exercised his privilege to force the Knesset committee that is considering the bill to return it to a ministerial panel. He argued that allowing the public to decide the international border with Syria, which claims sovereignty over the entire area, would “create an undesirable gap between Israeli law and international law.”

 

The current law requires an absolute majority in the Knesset before surrendering any part of the Golan.

 

               Likud Minister Dan Meridor 

Meridor, whom Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu persuaded to run for the Knesset in order to offset more nationalist candidates, stated during the election campaign that he would be willing to negotiate the status of the Golan Heights with Syria in return for a peace treaty. The Likud platform states that the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty, although several critics have claimed that the platform leaves open the possibility for a partial withdrawal.

 

Katzrin regional council chairman Sammy Bar-Lev told Arutz-7 that he hopes Likud voters will settle a score with Meridor. “We are very disappointed and angry. He has all kinds of legal reasons…but the bottom line is that he caused a delay when we already had a majority.” He added that coalition leaders promised him that the bill will return to the Knesset committee for a vote by next month.

 

In his appeal to the Knesset committee to return the bill to the ministerial committee, the Intelligence Minister wrote, “Our borders with Syria are not recognized internationally. We may want to make some changes, such as placing areas of large Jewish population centers in Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty.”

 

He also said Israel may want to surrender area in Judea and Samaria as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority  or surrender part or all of the Golan in an agreement with Syria.