Israeli cabinet approves bill to put any peace treaty with Palestinians to referendum
The Israeli cabinet has backed a bill that requires any peace deal with the Palestinians to be put to a referendum.
"Any agreement which may be reached in negotiations will be
put to a referendum," said Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's office as quoted by AFP. "It is important
that on such historic decisions every citizen should vote
directly on an issue deciding the country's future."
The government regards approval of the new bill dubbed ‘Basic
Law: Referendum’ as "urgent and important," and it will be
asking the parliament to speed up putting it into law, a cabinet
briefing paper also said.
‘Basic Law: Referendum’ is expected to be brought to the Knesset for a first reading on Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post. Netanyahu hopes to bring it through the second and third readings on the same day, so that to have it as a law already next week, a senior government source told the daily.
The referendum bill is seen as a goodwill gesture to right-wing members of the government who might oppose concessions Israel could have to make within the peace process negotiations - including giving up land.
This bill will only deal with sovereign land, so the government
would not have to hold a referendum on giving parts of Judea and
Samaria away to the Palestinians – if that should take place. But
if any agreements in the peace deal included a land swap in parts
of Jerusalem it would be put to a popular vote.
Netanyahu’s quick action on the bill comes just three days after
Trade Minister Naftali Bennett threatened that his Bayit Yehudi
party might not support the government’s budget, which will be
brought to a vote on Monday if no progress is made on the
Netanyahu has said that he is firmly supportive of the idea of a
“Peace with our neighbors requires peace among ourselves, and
the way to ensure this is through a referendum,” the PM
But not all government ministers are behind the idea of a popular vote. Justice minister Tzipi Livni reiterated her commitment to vote against such legislation, with the agreement of most of her party. While Avigor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, opposes a referendum but has said that he would support it if it became government policy.
The cabinet has also approved the PM's proposal to authorize the
of 104 Palestinian prisoners ahead of expected peace talks
with the Palestine Authority in the US. Now the ministers are
expected to appoint a ministerial committee to keep an eye on
negotiations with the Palestinians.