Itzik, Oron move to postpone hearing on Golan referendum bill

Hearing would debate law that would require national referendum before turning the Golan Heights over to Syria.

As most of their compatriots were hard at work passing the biennial budget, Kadima faction chairwoman MK Dalia Itzik and Meretz Chairman MK Haim Oron scrambled behind the scenes late Wednesday morning to postpone a hurry-up hearing to discuss the Golan referendum bill. The hearing, which coalition members sought to hold on Thursday, would debate and vote on the advancement of the law passed in its first reading during the previous Knesset that would require any government to hold a national referendum before turning the Golan Heights over to Syrian authority as a result of peace negotiations. The hearing was scheduled after a meeting of cabinet members decided to support the law earlier this week, and was slated to be held by a joint session of the House and Law Committees. Itzik and Oron upbraided coalition chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin, telling him that the "forbidden method through which hearings were held on the Economic Arrangements Law and the Budget - short hearings without receiving full information and without an in-depth discussion - should disappear from the face of the earth, and should not be repeated as a general practice for Knesset legislation." The two emphasized that there was no urgency to hold the hearing in an already-busy week, and asked that Elkin transfer it to a later date to allow MKs to assess the implications of allowing the debate on the law to pick up where it left off in the last Knesset. On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted to revive the bill and to submit it to the Knesset committees to give the approval necessary to continue the process on a bill that was filed during the previous Knesset. The bill was supposed to be submitted for its second and third readings on the first day of the winter session of the last Knesset, but the elections intervened. At the time, the bill was considered a stopgap measure to try to prevent prime minister Ehud Olmert from turning over the Golan Heights as part of an agreement with Syria, and as such, enjoyed a wide margin of support in its previous reading on the house floor. The legislation allows for two instances in which a referendum will not be required - if the concession passes the Knesset by a two-thirds majority with 80 MKs supporting the concession, or in the case that within 180 days after the Knesset okays the government decision, a general election is held.