Knesset continues debate on Referendum Bill

Bill won't apply to conceding parts of the West Bank, only east Jerusalem, the Golan and anything within the 1949 armistice lines.

December 25, 2013 02:44
1 minute read.
Tzahi Hanegbi

Hanegbi 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Having a referendum on a peace agreement is the democratic option, Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi said on Wednesday.

“This bill sends the message that there is another battle which will be resolved through public campaigns, by presenting reasons and convincing people. That is democratic culture,” Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) said.

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The House Committee worked on preparing the bill, which requires any treaty conceding sovereign land to be brought to the Knesset. If over 80 MKs approve, the deal can be implemented. If 61 to 80 MKs approve, it will be brought to a referendum.

If less than half of all MKs approve, the treaty will be rejected.

The legislation does not apply to a treaty conceding parts of the West Bank, but it does apply to east Jerusalem, the Golan and anything within the 1949 armistice lines.

The bill essentially turns the existing Referendum Law into a Basic Law, meaning that is meant to eventually become part of the constitution.

It also adds a clause making the day of the referendum a vacation day.

MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said he “expects this bill to be a double-edged sword causing us a lot of trouble. We’ll end up looking for ways to get around it.”

“In the past, Basic Laws were part of a constitutional revolution to protect human rights, but this bill is trying to ruin all chances of peace,” Horowitz added.

Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) pointed out that the content of the bill is not new, and it is only being reinforced as a Basic Law in order to defend it from petitions to the Supreme Court.

The House Committee did not hold any votes on the bill and will continue preparing it for its second and third (final) plenum readings.

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