Jewish Home chairman, Minister Naftali Bennett, is going to announce today, Monday, that his faction is conditioning passing the government budget, which is due by the end of July, on passing the National Referendum law.
Israel’s Basic Laws, the closest thing the country has to a constitution, do not provide for holding referendums, and the country has never held one. But back in 2008, the Knesset approved in its first reading a law that mandates a national referendum or a two thirds Knesset majority (80 MKs out of 120) before any territorial withdrawal. For the law to pass it required two more approvals in two consecutive readings.
MK Ayelet Shaked of Jewish Home said that every democratic country in the world provides for direct votes on critical issues. “It will prevent selling out in deals whole swaths of our homeland,” Shaked said. “Anyone who objects to a referendum does not trust the people.”
Bennett himself said in a closed meeting that the referendum would prevent a tear in the nation over the peace treaty.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday committed to a referendum in case of a peace deal becoming a reality. “Such a decision must be given to the nation to decide,” he said.
In Yesh Atid, Netanyahu’s other large coalition partner, headed by Minister Yair Lapid, there are misgivings over a referendum. The party definitely objects to anchoring a referendum in a constitutional-level law.
On Friday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the Jordanian newspaper A-Rai that any peace treaty with Israel will have to pass a national referendum on the Palestinian side, too.
Meanwhile, Senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath told ma’an on Sunday that the EU’s recent position on Israeli settlements contributed to the return to negotiations and had a positive impact on the US position.