Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday condemned the recently passed National Referendum Law as an obstacle to peace.

The law will require either a Knesset super-majority or a national referendum in order to hand over any annexed territories as part of a future peace deal.

"This law is aimed at placing obstacles in front of a peace settlement," Abbas told reporters in Ramallah, where he inaugurated new headquarters for the PLO.

The Knesset passed the National Referendum Law during a late-night session Monday, approving legislation that will fundamentally alter Israeli negotiators’ ability to offer concrete peace deals involving the Golan Heights or east Jerusalem. The law passed by a vote of 65-33.

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"The Israelis are telling the world that they won't withdraw from Jerusalem and the Golan."

Abbas said that he was nevertheless not opposed to the idea of holding a referendum in Israel after reaching agreement with the Palestinians and Arabs on a peace settlement.

"They [Israel] can ask their people about the settlement through a referendum," he said. "But when they talk about a referendum about this part or that part [of the land], this constitutes an obstacle to peace."

Abbas said that the PLO headquarters he inaugurated in Ramallah would move to Jerusalem in the future.

"All our sovereign institutions are here temporarily," he noted. "In the future they will all be moved to Jerusalem, the capital of the independent Palestinian state."

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also condemned the new law. He said that, in accordance with international law, Israel must pull out not only from east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but the entire territories it captured in 1967.

"It's inconceivable to condition ending the occupation on any referendum," Erekat stressed. He said the Palestinians rejected any attempt by Israel to use its democracy as an excuse to deny the Palestinians their rights.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry also condemned the Knesset's decision to pass the law, which will require either a Knesset super-majority or a national referendum in order to hand over any annexed territories as part of a future peace deal.



"The Knesset's decision to pass the bill makes a mockery of international law. The international community considers east Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights to be occupied territories," a Syrian Foreign Ministry announcement read.

The statement also said that the law is designed for "those that still under the illusion that the Israeli government is interested in peace."

The Knesset passed the National Referendum Law during a late-night session Monday, approving legislation  that will fundamentally alter Israeli negotiators’ ability to offer concrete peace deals involving the Golan Heights or east Jerusalem. The law passed by a vote of 65-33.  


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