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Referendum bill passes in Knesset Committee
With pressure from Netanyahu, cabinet delays discussing bill that would necessitate national referendum before withdrawing from Golan Heights or east Jerusalem. Knesset House Committee passes bill. Next stage is Knesset vote

A bill that would necessitate a national referendum before any withdrawal from territory under full Israeli sovereignty, such as the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, was passed Wednesday in the Knesset House Committee. The bill will now be put for a vote in the Knesset for a second and third reading.

 

According to the bill, should the government approve a withdrawal from territory under full Israeli sovereignty – the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem – the decision will be put to a vote in the Knesset. Once passed in the Knesset, a national referendum will be held within 180. Only a vote of 80 Knesset members or more can forego a referendum.

 

The bill was tweaked and passed in a first reading by the previous Knesset. The Knesset House Committee applied the law of continuity, which allows for legislation from a previous Knesset to be completed. On Wednesday morning, Knesset House Committee Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) put the bill up for an expedited voting process, as most of the committee members are absent.

 

Seven of the committee members voted in favor of the bill, and two voted against it.

 

The Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs discussed the bill on Sunday, but decided to delay a deliberation on the bill by three months. This decision was made partly because of pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid any embarrassments with the international community. A group of ministers, led by Isaac Herzog, Yaakov Ne'eman, and Dan Meridor, expressed their vehement opposition to the bill.

 

Labor opposes

All of the numerous reservations on the law that were submitted were rejected. The Kadima faction lifted party discipline on the vote.

 

The Labor Party representatives voted against the bill even though the party supported the bill in its previous version, which applied on to withdrawal from the Golan Heights. The initial version of the bill was drafted during late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's term and has been revised over time until it received its current form.

 

After the vote, MK Chaim Oron (Meretz), who is not on the committee but attended the deliberations, said that the bill will deter any serious political figure from entering into peace talks with Israel. On the other hand, MK Carmel Shama (Likud) said that the bill is good news from the Golan Heights. "So far, the IDF has protected the Heights from external threat, and this law protects it from threats at home."

 

MK Molla came out against Likud: "Likud apparently does not trust the prime minister and his discretion to protect the Golan Heights. Therefore, it passed this law in order to put a boot on the prime minister and bury negotiations with Syria."

 

MK Levin said otherwise. "The law protects the unity of the nation and obligates any leader to reach an agreement that is acceptable to a majority of the people," Levin said.

 

 

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