Abbas: Referendum law is ‘obstacle to peace’

PA president inaugurates PLO headquarters in Ramallah which will be "moved to J'lem in future"; Syria: referendum makes mockery of int'l law.

Abbas alone (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Abbas alone
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday condemned as an obstacle to peace the new law requiring the approval of 80 MKs or a national referendum before any Israeli withdrawal from east Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.
“This law is aimed at placing obstacles in front of a peace settlement,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah, where he inaugurated a new headquarters for the PLO. “The Israelis are telling the world that they won’t withdraw from Jerusalem and the Golan.”
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Abbas said that he was nevertheless not opposed to Israel holding a referendum after reaching agreement with the Palestinians and Arabs on a peace settlement.
“They [Israel] can ask their people about the settlement through a referendum,” he said. “But when they talk about a referendum about this part or that part [of the land], this constitutes an obstacle to peace.”
Abbas said that the PLO headquarters he inaugurated in Ramallah would move to Jerusalem in the future.
“All our national institutions are here temporarily,” he said.
“In the future they will all be moved to Jerusalem, the capital of the independent Palestinian state.”
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also condemned the new law. He said that in accordance with international law, Israel must pull out not only from east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but the entire territories it captured in 1967.
“It’s inconceivable to condition ending the occupation on any referendum,” Erekat said.
The Palestinians rejected any attempt by Israel to use its democracy as an excuse to deny the Palestinians their rights, he said.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned the Knesset’s decision to approve the National Referendum Law, which would require either a Knesset super-majority or a national referendum in order to hand over any territories to which Israeli law applies.
“The Knesset’s decision to pass the bill makes a mockery of international law. The international community considers east Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights to be occupied territories,” a Syrian Foreign Ministry announcement read.
The law is designed for “those still under the illusion that the Israeli government is interested in peace,” the ministry said.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.