Gil Hoffman, Rebecca Anna Stoil
The Jerusalem Post
October 11, 2010 - 12:00am

A bill requiring a national referendum before relinquishing land in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights passed during a special meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Monday, laying the groundwork for it to become law within weeks.

According to the spokesman of the committee, among those who voted in favor of the bill were Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, with Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog and Intelligence and Atomic Affairs Minister Dan Meridor voting against it.

Amendments to the bill include a requirement that 80 members of the Knesset support the referendum and that there will not be a day off for voting.

The bill, submitted by Knesset House Committee chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud), had already passed its first reading in the Knesset and Levin’s committee without the support of the Prime Minister’s Office.

With the Ministerial Committee's support, the bill is likely to easily pass its final readings.

The legislation would require a national referendum in any instance in which Israel agreed in diplomatic talks to hand over areas that have been annexed (i.e., Jerusalem beyond the Green Line) or to which Israeli law has been extended (i.e., the Golan Heights).

According to the bill, any such deal must be approved by the Knesset and then put to a national referendum within 180 days. The bill tasks the Central Elections Committee with running any referendum, and would declare any referendum day to be equivalent to an election day.

The format of the referendum question will be phrased, simply: “Are you in favor of or opposed to the agreement approved by the Knesset?” Another bill will be submitted this week by MK Ophir Akunis (Likud) that would require a referendum on any deal with the Palestinian Authority; Akunis will ask the House Committee to expedite the legislation.


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