Referendum Bill to face first Knesset vote

Bennett: Government vote will keep nation united; Cabel says “prime minister is running away from leadership."

Naftali Bennett Keda outpost 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Naftali Bennett Keda outpost 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The Knesset will vote on the government’s Referendum Bill in its first reading on Wednesday, following a ministerial vote in favor of the legislation on Sunday.
The bill, which turns the existing Referendum Law – requiring any deal to give up sovereign territory to be brought to a public vote – into a Basic Law, will be brought to a first reading Wednesday afternoon, the last day of the Knesset’s summer session.
The coalition does not plan to rush the legislation into second and third (final) readings this week, meaning that it cannot become law until at least October, unless the government calls an emergency vote during the Knesset’s recess.
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, who demanded that the Referendum Bill be promoted as a condition for the Bayit Yehudi’s support of the state budget, said on Sunday that the government chose to keep the nation of Israel united.
“The Land of Israel belongs to the grandfathers of our grandfathers and the grandsons of our grandsons and no one can give up our right to it,” Bennett stated. “Such a crucial decision cannot be made through political tricks.”
According to Bennett, “every decision on giving up part of the land must be made by the public.”
According to coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), who submitted the legislation with Bayit Yehudi MKs Ayelet Shaked and Orit Struck, a referendum on a peace agreement “will protect national unity.”
“[The Referendum Bill will] prevent votes being bought by a Mitsubishi in order to approve controversial treaties,” Levin quipped in reference to former MK Alex Goldfarb who, in 1995, left the Tzomet party and voted in favor of the Oslo II Accords. Goldfarb became a deputy minister and received a Mitsubishi as a perk of his new post.
“I am convinced that the nation will not allow the government to give away parts of our homeland,” Levin added. “As coalition chairman, I will act to ensure this bill moves forward quickly and will work to expand it so it includes all of Judea and Samaria.”
Meanwhile, MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) said “the prime minister is running away from leadership. [Former prime ministers] Begin, Rabin and Sharon made fateful decisions, but took responsibility and understood that their job requires them to do what the nation needs and not what it wants.”
According to Cabel, if first prime minister David Ben- Gurion made a referendum on whether to establish the State of Israel, it may have been voted down.
“If the prime minister wants to present the public with an agreement with the Palestinians and feels a need to get the nation’s permission,” Cabel said, “he should call an election and gain the public’s confidence again.”