MKs readying Golan referendum bill

Legislation seen as stopgap effort to prevent Olmert from ceding Heights in an agreement with Syria.

Golan Heights 224 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
Golan Heights 224 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Members of the Knesset House Committee will not be jetting off to their recess vacations this week, but will instead begin an 18-hour series of meetings in an effort to finalize the terms of the National Referendum Bill before the legislature opens its winter session at the end of October. The bill is seen as a stopgap effort to prevent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from turning over the Golan Heights as part of an agreement with Syria. The meetings this week will be held in three sessions, each with a set agenda. The first meeting will address the technical aspects of a referendum, including determining its date and ballot, the second will deal with communications and advertising, and the third will focus on the legal aspects of the bill. House Committee Chairman MK David Tal (Kadima) is one of the legislation's most vocal supporters. The bill passed its first reading on the house floor by a vote of 65-18 in late June. If passed into law, any concession of land under direct jurisdiction and administration of the State of Israel would need to pass the cabinet the Knesset, and a national referendum. But this week's meetings will focus on how national referenda are to be held, including instructions for determining the date of a referendum, and who can vote in it. In the bill's current format, the same rules will apply to a national referendum as apply to a Knesset election, including mandating that voting day be a day off from work and the Central Elections Committee be responsible for running the ballot. Previous attempts at creating a legal basis for such a referendum were stymied before reaching the final stages of the legislative process, but with such powerful support this time around, the bill seems likely to see one of the first major Knesset votes following the return from recess.