Referendum bill on settlement withdrawal advances to Knesset reading

If Hauser’s bill becomes law, the referendum law would be extended, even though the settlements are not under Israeli sovereignty.

The settlement of Kfar Eldad as seen from above. (photo credit: GUSH ETZION REGIONAL COUNCIL)
The settlement of Kfar Eldad as seen from above.
(photo credit: GUSH ETZION REGIONAL COUNCIL)
The Knesset gave initial approval to a private members bill on Wednesday that would require a referendum or the approval of 80 parliamentarians before Israel could agree to the withdrawal from West Bank territory within the boundaries of the settlements.
The bill proposed by MK Zvi Hauser (Derech Eretz) was approved 53-42 and must now undergo three Knesset readings before passage into law.
It extends the 2014 Knesset basic law that makes the same requirements for any Israeli withdrawal from sovereign territory, including in Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.
If Hauser’s bill becomes law, the referendum law would be extended, even though the settlements are not under Israeli sovereignty.
‘I am asking that any historic decision that could involve the evacuation of settlements .. requires a decision by a national mechanism,” he said.
Such application would not be considered a vote of sovereignty, but would be interpreted by the bill’s opponents as a form of de facto annexation particularly given that it would involve a Knesset vote over non-sovereign Israeli territory.
The referendum requirement is designed to make any territorial withdrawal during peace negotiations more difficult, by expanding the approval process beyond a typical majority vote.
Its supporters have argued that the requirement itself, is an exercise in democracy because it places matters of national strategic importance directly in the hands of the public.
“If a decision is made to transfer such settlements as are recognized in Judea and Samaria, to a foreign entity, then only one mechanism should be utilized to make such a decision,” Hauser said, calling it a basic democratic and humanistic procedure.
He hoped that there would be no evacuations. In the 21st Century, “the idea of uprooting a population as a resolution to an ethic dispute, would be unacceptable anywhere else,” Hauser said.
Education Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) told the plenum “that if a referendum is needed for Jerusalem and the Golan, then certainly it is correct to turn to the nation when it comes to such a fateful decision on Judea and Samaria.”
The idea of a national referendum for fateful national decisions is not limited to the Right side of the aisle, but is accepted on the Left as well, he said.
MK Tamar Zamberg (Meretz) called the bill “arrogant, patronizing and illegal.”
She objected to the idea that the Israeli public would vote on the fate of territory outside its borders, without including the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, even though they would be impacted by the results.
“Everywhere in the world where a referendum is held on the fate of a region, those who participate in the referendum are local residents,” Zandberg said. “Who gave us the right to make a decision in the name of those who are not citizens of the state, but are governed by our military rule.”
No one is holding a referendum on the legalization of the outposts, she said. “We should ask all the residents of the area, Jews and Arabs, if they support or oppose these moves?” Zandberg added.