Israeli gov't backs bill requiring referendum on Golan pullout

10:23, December 09, 2009      

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The Israeli government decided Tuesday to stand behind a bill that requires a referendum on any concession of land currently under the country's claimed sovereignty, reported local daily The Jerusalem Post.

The motion apparently relates to the Golan Heights and the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The Jewish state captured both the strategic highland and the Arab-dominated eastern section of the holy city in 1967, before annexing both in early 1980s.

Should Israel reach peace accords with Syria and the Palestinians in the future, it will likely have to withdraw from the two areas, a scenario that will undoubtedly stir up bitter controversy in the Israeli public.

According to the bill, if the Israeli government decides to cede such land in a deal with any other country, then a referendum should be held and the concession deal will be contingent on its passing the national vote.

The bill had passed its first reading during the previous parliament before the general election intervened, said the Israeli newspaper, adding that it was revived by a ministerial committee months ago after the current government and parliament went into place.

Despite criticism that such a legislation would fetter the government in future peace negotiations, the committee on Tuesday night decided to support the bill, and the parliament is expected to vote on it as early as Wednesday, according to the report.

Meanwhile, according to the bill, the government could avoid such a referendum if the concession deal enjoys support from at least two-thirds of the 120 lawmakers.  

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