Daniel Yuval .
(photo credit: Channel 2)
“Go vote,” 12-year-old Daniel Yuval told Likud MKs, hours before a landmark bill
that would pave the way for the removal of most of Israel’s hundreds of
thousands of land mines and unexploded ordinance passed its first reading in the
Yuval, who lost his leg to one such mine a year ago this week
while playing in the snow in the Golan Heights, served as the inspiration and
the namesake for the bill, which would establish a civilian authority charged
with clearing the mines.
Yuval sat among the MKs Monday evening as the
bill passed its first reading by a vote of 58-0. The bill will now be returned
to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for hearings, to resolve a number
of clauses before the bill is brought up for its second and third readings in
committee and then on the house floor.
Seventy-three MKs signed on as
co-sponsors to the bill, which international experts in land mine clearance have
said would set up a well-tested process for the removal of over 90 percent of
the deadly explosives that litter some of Israel’s most popular tourist areas in
the Galilee, the Golan Heights and the Arava. The civilian authority would
cooperate with the military in removing non-operationally- necessary devices, and
be able to receive international funding earmarked for such projects in addition
to its government-granted budget.
In a last-minute effort to drum up
support for the bill, Yuval, who has become the young spokesman for Mine- Free
Israel, met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud MKs during the
party’s faction meeting on Monday afternoon.
Netanyahu spoke about the
bill and told Yuval that “you fill our souls.” He thanked him for working to
advance the legislation.
“It’s right, and it’s just for Israel. You have
given us a strong spirit,” the prime minister declared.
Nobel Peace Prize
laureate Jerry White, who has led mine clearance campaigns worldwide and who
also lost a leg to a land mine in the Golan Heights over two decades ago, told
the MKs that Monday was “a great day for the whole country.”
the authority could provide Israel with the necessary tools to clear most of its
land mines in six years.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.