Bennett: Budget in exchange for referendum on peace
Peace talks have yet to resume, but disagreements already surfacing in coalition. After Livni, Lieberman say they oppose referendum on any deal with Palestinians, Habayit Hayehudi chairman says won't support budget unless Referendum Bill passed 'to prevent rupture in nation'
Ahead of the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett said his party would not support the State Budget unless the government passes a bill requiring a referendum on any peace agreement in which Israel gives up land, a senior party source said Monday.
Bennett set the ultimatum due to the fact that senior coalition partners such as Minister Tzipi Livni and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman oppose the Referendum Bill, which was recently submitted by Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked.
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Finance Minister Yair Lapid has yet to reveal his position on the matter, and his party Yesh Atid is scheduled to convene soon to determine its stance. The party is against bringing the Referendum Bill to a vote as a basic law.
Habayit Hayehudi lawmakers are demanding that the Referendum Bill be passed in a first reading as soon as possible, noting that it appears in the coalition agreements with the ruling Likud-Beiteinu faction.
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Meanwhile, coalition officials are working on a way to start voting on the Referendum Bill as soon as possible and hope to call an emergency meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation as soon as Monday.
Economy Minister Bennett told a senior party source earlier Monday that "this is a moral, principled demand. Our first goal is to prevent a rupture in the nation."
MK Shaked said a referendum is customary "all over the world in situations where sovereignty is being dissolved. In our country it will prevent a rift in the nation and the selling of part of our homeland through shady deals. Those who oppose a referendum do not believe in their people."
Another Habayit Hayehudi official said the Referendum Bill is a "moral obligation. Let's not be naïve; the agreement, if there will be one, will be a T-intersection in the path of Zionism. No less. It will have repercussions on our security situation in the coming years and on the ideological and moral DNA of the State of Israel."
Bennett is expected to address the issue during a faction meeting later in the day.
On Sunday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said any agreement with the Palestinians should be put to a referendum. "I believe that this is necessary. I do not think that such decisions can be made, if indeed an agreement is achieved, by this or that coalition process; it must be put to the people for a decision," the PM said.
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