“Basic Law: Referendum” is back on track, after a ministerial vote Sunday allowed the bill requiring a national referendum on any treaty conceding sovereign territory to be prepared for its second and final Knesset votes.
The Referendum Bill, which turns the existing Referendum Law into a Basic Law, does not apply to the West Bank but would apply to a peace treaty involving land swaps or giving parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
“Making the Referendum Bill a Basic Law strengthens the trend of protecting national unity and cohesion of the whole public behind whatever decision is made in the future,” coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), who proposed the bill, said.
Levin expressed confidence that “the nation will not allow parts of our homeland to be given away.”
The legislation, sponsored by Levin and Bayit Yehudi MKs Ayelet Shaked and Orit Struck, passed a first Knesset reading at the end of July but had to be brought back to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for technical reasons involving merging a government proposal with Levin, Shaked and Struck’s private members’ bill.
All the ministers in the committee voted in favor of the bill, except for Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.
Livni voiced opposition to a referendum when the bill was brought to the Knesset in the summer and maintained that stance. However, she demanded that an amendment be added to the bill requiring referendum day to be a vacation day, which some ministers opposed. The change will be discussed in Knesset committee meetings.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On called the bill an attempt to torpedo the peace talks with the Palestinians.
“Government support for this bill as negotiations are ongoing is further proof that the Netanyahu-Liberman- Bennett government is not committed to peace,” Gal-On said.
The legislation was supposed to be brought to a ministerial vote last week, but at the last minute Yisrael Beytenu ministers said they would vote against it, and Levin pulled the bill.
Since then, the coalition chairman convinced most ministers to back the initiative.
However, Aharonovitch did not withdraw a letter of opposition from last week in time for Sunday’s vote.