With a majority of 65 votes in favor and 33 opposing, the Israeli Knesset passed the Referendum Bill in the second and third readings, thus requiring a public majority referendum vote and the votes of 60 members of Knesset (MK’s) in order to approve any withdrawal from occupied Jerusalem and the occupied Golan Heights.Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that among the Knesset members who voted for the bill were 26 members of the Likud Party, eleven members of Shas, thirteen of Yisrael Beiteinu, seven of the National Union and the “Jewish Home” Habayit Hayehudi, three members of the Labor party and three members of the United Torah Judaism.
Haaretz added that Labor members of Knesset, Ehud Barak, Yitzhak Herzog, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Avishai Braverman did not attend the vote.
All Arab members of Knesset, all MK’s of the Meretz movement in addition to five MK’s of the Labor party voted against the bill.
The newly passed law stated that should Israel reach a peace deal with Syria or the Palestinian leadership, regarding a withdrawal from the Golan Heights or Jerusalem, it must first be passed by the government with approval of at least 61 members of Knesset, and then a public referendum must be held to approve or reject the move.
Arab member of Knesset, Dr. Jamal Zahalka, stated that this new law is illegal and unprecedented in history, and explained that “throughout history, occupied nations held referenda to determine their future and self-determination, while in Israel the occupiers are the ones who are holding referenda to determine the fate and the future of occupied nations”.
Dr. Zahalka added that the Knesset is not entitled to determine the fate of Jerusalem or the Golan Heights as the two areas are under occupation, “therefore International Law must be applied, and not the Israeli law; Jerusalem and the Golan are not an internal Israel issue to be determined by the Knesset”, he said.
“This law is a clear message in which Israel is stating that it does not want a settlement to the conflict, and does not want peace”, Dr. Zahalka added, “Only idiots will be negotiating with Israel because this law voids any chances of a peace deal, it closes all paths of peace, this law is a grave to any agreement as it does not only bind the current Israeli government, but also binds and limits the options of any future government”.