Knesset set to pass J’lem-Golan land referendum bill

Legislation would require either referendum or supporting vote of 80 MKs in event that Israel agreed to hand over areas under its sovereignty.

Golan (photo credit: AP)
(photo credit: AP)
The Knesset on Monday is expected to pass on its second and third reading a bill requiring a national referendum before relinquishing land in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Submitted by Knesset House Committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud), the legislation would require either a national referendum or a supporting Knesset vote of 80 MKs in any instance in which Israel agreed in diplomatic talks to hand over areas under Israel sovereignty (i.e., in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line or on the Golan Heights).
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According to the bill, any such deal would, within 180 days, be put to a national referendum that would be run by the Central Elections Committee.
The day of the vote would not be a work holiday.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposed the bill and called it “a concrete block on the head of efforts to advance the diplomatic process.” He complained about the legislation in a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in October.
“The bill raises questions about the government’s desire and ability to lead the peace process,” Barak said, in a statement released by the Defense Ministry.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has also outspokenly opposed the bill and in his speech opening the Knesset’s winter session, said that the government could not use a referendum to bypass the Knesset. The real referendum that should be used to gauge public opinion was Knesset elections, he said.
“Referendums are not rabbits that can be pulled out of a hat at difficult times,” Rivlin said.
“Reforms can be made, but the government cannot coerce the Knesset to accept steps taken using improper methods.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.