Likud MKs slam Meridor over referendum bill appeal
MKs Levin, Danon rise against intelligence, atomic energy minister for thwarting Knesset vote on bill conditioning any withdrawal from territories with referendum. 'Appeal goes against Likud policy,' Levin says. No chance for 61-vote majority favoring withdrawal, says Knesset Speaker Rivlin
Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor prompted much anger on the part of fellow Likud Knesset members for thwarting a Knesset vote on renewing legislative procedures of a bill requiring a referendum prior to any withdrawal from Israeli land. MK Yariv Levin said that Meridor is best to withdraw his appeal from the bill.
Levin, who chairs a special committee assigned to drafting the bill, commented on the minister's appeal and said, "The Likud is a broad party which should allow the expression of different opinions, however from the moment a decision was made to promote the bill, it was only appropriate that all factions members be committed to it and act accordingly."
Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon also commented and noted, "It is an unnecessary appeal which should not have been filed. The appeal goes against the Likud policy, which I and the rest of the party members announced of prior to the elections."
Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Hershkowitz expressed similar views and said, "This is a right-wing government which should protect the Golan and quickly promote this important bill," and further claimed, "Ariel Sharon denied any referendum on the uprooting of Gush Katif because he feared its consequences and the Knesset should learn that painful lesson and prevent any future possibility of withdrawal against the people's will."
Meridor did, however, receive some support, on the part of Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin. "Minister Meridor has the right to voice his opinion and the government should be the one to decide. He has clear views and the Likud took him back in spite of these views. In a pluralistic party such as the Likud one respects any opinion - but also casts a decision, and the Likud's decision was that a Golan Heights withdrawal should not be debated."
Rivlin also noted that there is little chance that the Knesset would vote in favor of a withdrawal from the Golan Heights. "Israel holds a referendum once every four years – what we call the elections. A 61-vote majority is a majority for any intent and purpose and I can't imagine 61 Knesset members agreeing to such a withdrawal," he said.
The Knesset speaker also said he believes a referendum is problematic, aside from Meridor's appeal, and noted that should the minister endorse the bill due to faction coercion he shall do so knowing it has declaration value only, "since a 61-vote majority can dismiss any law."
"This bill harmfully and unnecessarily weighs Israel down, and makes it appear as though it is heaping difficulties on a possible peace accord," Meridor's appeal stated.
The legislative process on the bill began two and a half years ago with the initiative of former Kadima Knesset Member Avigdor Yitzchaki. Last June the bill passed in first hearing, however legislative procedures came to a halt due to the elections.
The process was renewed in the Knesset's Constitution Committee last July under the current coalition's initiative, which decided that the Knesset would vote on the application of the 'rule of continuity' (according to which legislative procedures will pick up where they left off in the previous Knesset). The vote was scheduled to take place on Monday, however the plan did not follow through.