Finance Minister Yair Lapid 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) plans to support legislation that
requires a referendum on the terms of a peace treaty with the
The government will probably vote as early as this Sunday
on whether to place the matter before the public.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said Monday that his government would pass such a law
and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) has threatened to withhold his
support for the budget if progress is not made on legislation relating to the
Earlier this year, Lapid brought Bennett’s referendum
proposal to his faction
for a discussion, but postponed a vote until it became
more relevant after many in the party voiced opposition to the move.
the end, Lapid decided late Monday night that his party will back the prime
minister’s referendum bill.
However, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni,
chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, repeated her commitment
to vote against the referendum
at every opportunity, with the agreement of most
of her party.
The exception is MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua), who Livni gave
permission to vote according to his conscience on diplomatic
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman opposes a referendum, but
has said that he will support it if it becomes government policy. He gave his
ministers permission to vote as they see fit.
Meanwhile, at a Land of
Israel caucus meeting in the Knesset on Tuesday
, several MKs warned that a
referendum could be problematic for the Right.
“It is wrong of the Right
to rely on a referendum and say, ‘The people will decide,’” Deputy Foreign
Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu) said.
“Before [a peace treaty] gets
to the people, the politicians will decide, and people cannot forget
Deputy Minister for Liaison with the Knesset Ofir Akunis said the
Likud faction argued last night on whether Judea and Samaria should be added to
the referendum bill.
“The fight is about Judea and Samaria; they have to
be in the bill,” Akunis stated, adding that he is working on the referendum
legislation in the Prime Minister’s Office.
In the evening, Bennett,
Elkin and Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) traveled to
the Shilo settlement in the Binyamin region to participate in the inauguration
of a visitor’s center at the biblical archeology site there.
“The Land of
Israel belongs to the people of Israel,” Bennett said, as he stood on a stage
near where the Ark of the Covenant was housed in biblical times.
promised, in the name of the government, that building would continue in Judea
and Samaria and Jerusalem.
Elkin said it was symbolic that people had
gathered in Shilo on the eve of the renewal of talks with the Palestinians, and
added that while he supported talks with the Palestinians, the issue was not the
concept of talks, but their substance.
“We need to talk with the
Palestinians about how to keep Shilo, not how to give it up,” Elkin said. “We
have to talk about where we are staying and why. That can only happen through a
connection to our roots.”Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.