PM: Referendum will prevent an irresponsible agreement

Netanyahu refuses to postpone vote on Jerusalem-Golan Heights national referendum despite pressure from Barak; Kadima expected to vote against proposed bill.

November 22, 2010 20:48
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu headshot. (photo credit: Marc Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Following a Knesset discussion on the Jerusalem-Golan Heights national referendum bill, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement Monday saying that a referendum of a future accord will prevent an irresponsible agreement, and on the other hand will provide strong public support for an accord that will answer Israel's national security interests.

Netanyahu said he was convinced that any accord that he would bring would get this backing.

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The Knesset was 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.

Earlier on Monday Netanyahu refused to postpone a
vote on the bill which prompted Labor to issue a statement allowing its members to vote at their discretion.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak had earlier 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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