Barak says land referendum bill obstructs peace process

Defense minister: Law, which would require national referendum in any case in which Israel agrees to hand over annexed areas, unnecessary.

barak_311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The land referendum bill that was passed by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Monday raises questions about the government's desire and ability to lead the peace process, according to a statement released by the Defense Ministry.  
The statement comes as a reaction to a bill, passed during a special meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Monday, which requires a national referendum in any instance in which Israel agreed in diplomatic talks to hand over areas that have been annexed (i.e., Jerusalem beyond the Green Line) or to which Israeli law has been extended (i.e., the Golan Heights).
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The bill, submitted by Knesset House Committee chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud), had already passed its first reading in the Knesset and Levin’s committee without the support of the Prime Minister’s Office.
With the Ministerial Committee's support, the bill is likely to easily pass its final readings.   
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government pledged to advance the peace process and this unnecessary bill serves as an obstacle to this process, the Defense Ministry statement said.
"The Israeli public wants a political process that focuses on security issues and an end to the conflict. The Ministerial Committee's decision fundamentally harms the possibility to realize this objective," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in the statement.
Gil Hoffman and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.