Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett is pushing for the government to pass
a Basic Law requiring a referendum before any peace treaty with the Palestinians
is signed, to mixed responses from coalition partners.
Tzipi Livni, the minister responsible for peace talks, said Sunday that she
adamantly opposes the idea, while Finance Minister Yair Lapid is open to it,
though many in Yesh Atid are not.
The coalition agreement says there will
be a referendum on a peace agreement “if necessary.”
A law passed in 2010
requires any agreement in which land under Israeli sovereignty is ceded to be
brought to a referendum.
Bennett discussed the matter with Lapid last
week, a source close to the Bayit Yehudi leader said Sunday.
“We want to
build a bridge so that the nation isn’t torn apart if there are peace talks,”
the source said. “A right-wing politician was bribed to vote for Oslo, and
that’s not how decisions should be made,” the source added, hinting at former
Tzomet MK Alex Goldfarb, who became a deputy minister in 1995 after voting
against his party’s platform to support the Oslo Accords.
is the most reasonable way to prevent a rift in the nation. It’s a
decisionmaking mechanism,” the source explained.
Lapid told Bennett he
would be willing to consider a referendum, but many in his party are likely to
oppose it, such as Health Minister Yael German, a former member of Meretz, or
Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, who is involved with the
Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah opposes a
referendum, his spokeswoman said.
Yesh Atid’s official position on the
matter will be decided in a faction meeting either this or next
Livni, however, said she opposes both the current law and
Bennett’s efforts to turn it into a Basic Law, which would have a constitutional
“Anyone in Yesh Atid who wants a peace agreement must oppose
this,” Livni told Army Radio. “We didn’t ask the nation if we want to control
the territories, and no decision has been made yet to withdraw from
According to the justice minister, a referendum would undermine
democracy, because the Knesset is elected by citizens so its members can make
“A referendum is a way to prevent what the Knesset and
government authorize, since it won’t happen before a decision, but after,” she
pointed out. “I believe in the need and ability to explain decisions the
government makes to the public.”
Livni added: “There are ramifications
that could come from evacuating people from their homes, and it’s difficult to
share the security issues with all citizens.
Imagine the tension in
families, if one family member lives in a place that needs to be evacuated – how
will his relatives vote?”