Syrian and Palestinian officials condemned, on Tuesday, a new Israeli law that mandates a referendum must be held ahead of any withdrawal from annexed East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, AFP reported.
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, denounced the parliamentary decision saying: ‘With the passage of this bill, the Israeli leadership, yet again, is making a mockery of international law,’. He added: ‘Ending the occupation of our land is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum.’
Erekat also warned Israel is obliged, under international law, to withdraw from all territories that it has occupied since 1967, and called nations to respond to the move by recognizing internationally Palestinian statehood on all West Bank land.
In reaction to the new legislation, the Syrian Foreign Ministry commented: ‘Syria totally rejects this Israeli measure which changes nothing to the fact that the Golan is Syrian territory and cannot be part of any negotiations,’
Syrian officials point out that, although Israel is conditioning the return of the Golan Heights through a recent law, Damascus’ right to the territory remains.
The Syrian media denounced the legislation claiming it was a sign that Israel had no interest in making peace. The paper of Syria’s Baath party, al-Baas, called the law ‘a new aggressive measure that reflects Israel’ disdain for Arab rights and its rejection of international resolutions stipulating the withdrawal from Arab territory occupied in 1967.’
Experts argue the new law will kill any possibility for the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians and Syrians, stalled due to Tel Aviv’s violations.
The Israeli parliament (Knesset) ratified a bill on Monday, calling to put any treaty involving a withdrawal from Israeli-annexed land to a national referendum, in the event that Israel’s parliament has not approved the matter by a two-thirds majority.
The law would cover any peace agreements requiring return of annexed land, namely East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights captured from Syria, or any other sovereign territory within Israel. Territorial concessions within the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, which Israel has not annexed, would not be affected by the new bill.