A Cabinet-level committee Monday put teeth into last July’s law requiring a plebiscite before any surrender of parts of Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.
The bill is a victory for nationalists, who hope to expend the referendum provision for the approximately 300,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria. Likud MK Ofir Akunis said he will submit a bill next week to require a plebiscite before Israel could give up parts of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority.
Monday’s approval by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation of the Knesset involves procedural issues that allow implementation of the recently-passed law. A provision allows for circumventing a referendum in the event that 80 percent of the legislators agree, a virtually impossible circumstance given the nationalist stance of the Knesset.
If Israel reaches any agreement with Syria for surrendering the Golan Heights or with the Palestinian Authority for giving up parts of Jerusalem, the public would vote on the question, "Are you in favor of or opposed to the agreement approved by the Knesset?”
The only two ministers opposing the bill were Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog of Labor and Dan Meridor of Likud who is considered the head of the “left-wing” of his party. He previously has gone on record as favoring surrender of the Golan Heights in return for a peace pact with Syria.
Backers of the international move for the “Land for peace’ initiative called the new bill an obstacle to their goal. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who also heads the Labor party that is part of the coalition government, called the bill “needless.” Kadima MK Nachman Shai called the referendum law ”a fatal blow to parliamentary democracy."