Labor to allow voting freedom in national referendum bill

PM rejects Barak's call to postpone vote; majority of Labor opposed to proposed law; Kadima to vote against bill as well.

November 22, 2010 19:40
2 minute read.
Ehud Barak

barak thumbs up 311. (photo credit: GPO)

The Labor party will allow its members to vote at their discretion on the Jerusalem-Golan Heights national referendum bill after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to postpone the vote on Monday.

The Knesset is expected to pass on its second and third reading the bill, which will require a national referendum before relinquishing land in east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

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Earlier Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on Netanyahu to postpone voting, saying that the proposed law would damage peace attempts with Syria.

Most of the Labor party members are strongly opposed to the proposed law for two reasons. First, they say the bill represents a change in the system of government which took place without an in-depth discussion. Secondly, the passing of the bill may be seen by the world as an attempt to torpedo peace negotiations with the Syrians.

Barak made his request to Netanyahu during a Labor party meeting.

Kadima will also vote against the bill, according to a statement released by the party on Monday. It was decided that Kadima MKs in favor of the bill will not participate in the vote.

"Today's proposal relates to the question of a national referendum as a whole and not the specific issue that is being debated within this proposal," head of the opposition Tzipi Livni said during a party meeting.

Hadash MK Dov Henin called on the Knesset to reject the bill saying that the bill increases the risk of war and a breakdown in relations with the Arab world.

"Today, the government is seeking to convey a clear message about the refusal to continue with the Arab peace initiative and the rejection of every other attempt to reach a peace deal with Syria and the Palestinians," Henin said in a statement.

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).

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.

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