Referendum Law on Conceding Land Passes


The Referendum Law requiring a national vote on concessions of any sovereign land became a Basic Law on Wednesday, by a vote of 68 to 0.

The law, which passed in the previous Knesset and has now been upgraded to a Basic Law, requires a referendum on any treaty that involved ceding land currently under Israeli sovereignty, including the Golan Heights and eastern Yerushalayim, though not Yehudah and Shomron.

Only if more than 80 MKs support such a treaty can it be ratified without a referendum; and if fewer than 61 MKs vote for the treaty, it will be rejected without need for a referendum.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was approving on Wednesday, saying, “A major diplomatic decision cannot be made without the nation. If we reach that point, we need to go to the people. That is the right, just, democratic thing, the only way to preserve peace among ourselves.

“This is a historic decision and we need to be proud that we are making it,” Netanyahu added.

Amendments to the Basic Law have been rare. This was the first the 1992 Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation passed.

Basic Laws are given special consideration by the High Court, and other legislation contradicting Basic Laws have been canceled by the court.

Speaking on behalf of the law, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett invoked the Gaza withdrawal as justification for it:

“Nine years ago this week, the Knesset authorized the [Gaza] Disengagement Plan. MKs said it would bring security, peace, the world’s approval. People are shooting rockets at our citizens from the very place we left. This wouldn’t happen if we had a referendum.”

MK Amram Mitzna (Movement), though voting with the coalition, was not so enthusiastic.

“I don’t like this law; I think we managed fine without a referendum until now, even in difficult decisions,” Mitzna stated. “If I thought it was proposed out of democratic reasons, I would be less disturbed by it, but MK Levin is proposing it to make any future peace treaty more difficult, complicated and maybe even impossible.” “We have no choice [but to concede land] because we cannot continue ruling another nation without giving them basic rights. The world won’t allow it,” he added.