Gamla, in the Golan
Gamla, in the GolanIsrael news photo: file

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided Tuesday to give the government's backing to a bill proposed by MK Yariv Levin (Likud) requiring that a national referendum be held if the government ever intends to cede land under Israeli sovereignty.

The law is seen as being primarily relevant with regard to the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which are under full Israeli sovereignty. The Knesset passed laws annexing eastern Jerusalem and the Golan in 1980 and 1981, respectively.

If the government wishes to make a deal to surrender these areas, according to the proposed law, a referendum must be called within 180 days of the initial agreement – and any deal would be contingent on its passing the referendum. In order to avoid the referendum, 80 MKs would have to approve the deal.

Meridor petition struck down

The ministerial committee also struck down an appeal against a similar decision it had made in the past. The appeal was filed by Minister Dan Meridor, who is a proponent of a Golan retreat in return for a peace deal with Syria.

Minister Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz (Jewish Home), who opposed Meridor's appeal, was happy with the vote. “The territories of the Land of Israel must be safeguarded,” he stated, “and the processes of legislation must be accelerated in order to prevent a future possibility of retreats against the will of the people.”

Meridor said in the past that passage of a referendum law such as this could “send a problematic message to the Syrians” and make it difficult for the government to advance diplomatic processes in the future.

The proposed referendum law is now expected to come up for a vote in the Knesset with the backing of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the coalition. Bills with coalition backing usually pass into law.