Amnon Meranda
July 1, 2008 - 4:02pm,7340,L-3562303,00.html

A bill stating that a referendum will be held before the ceding of any land belonging to the State of Israel has been approved in its preliminary reading by the Knesset on Monday.

The motion was approved with a majority of 65 MKs, and was opposed by 18. According to the bill, if the government approves the ceding of Israeli land the decision will be brought before the Knesset, and if it is approved by the Knesset, a referendum will be held within 180 days. However, should a withdrawal be supported by at least 80 MKs, the matter will not be brought to a referendum.

The bill refers to areas that Israel has full sovereignty over, such as the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem. The West Bank does not fall under this category.

MK Yisrael Katz (Likud), head of the Knesset's Golan Heights lobby, said following the vote "the result is a victory (for MKs who oppose an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan). The Knesset conveyed a clear message to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and to (Syrian President Bashar) Assad that Israel will not cede the Golan."

Knesset House Committee Chairman David Tal (Kadima) said the preliminary vote was an important step "in preventing Israel from making dangerous concessions".

Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On on the other hand said the Knesset was "attempting to hinder the negotiations on the Golan. 

"The Knesset's job is to determine whether we are better off holding on to the Golan without peace or achieving peace while ceding the Golan," she said. "If the Knesset has the authority to approve the annexation of lands, then it must also hold the authority to reach the opposite decision."



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