Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Knesset Committee Passes Golan Bill in First Reading



Why would they even consider giving away the Golan under ANY circumstance????


by Hillel Fendel

( By an 8-4 vote, the Knesset House Committee passed an early version of a law requiring a popular referendum before the Golan could be given away. The vote was held Wednesday morning.

The proposal is now ready to be voted on in the full Knesset plenum for its first reading. If it passes, it must be transferred back to the Committee for last-minute changes and a vote, and if it passes that hurdle, it will be voted on for a final time in the Kneset.

Originally proposed by former MK Avigdor Yitzchaki, the bill states that no referendum is necessary if at least 80 MKs - two-thirds of the Knesset - support the retreat. If a majority of less than 2/3 supports a withdrawal, the retreat must be approved in a popular referendum before becoming law.

Proponents of a referendum originally wanted a requirement for a 60% majority in order to approve a withdrawal, in order to neutralize the Arab vote in favor of a withdrawal. This requirement was dropped, however, in light of difficulties in having such a clause approved.

Labor Supports, Kadima on the Fence
The Kadima party leadership afforded its MKs freedom of choice in the vote, while Labor MKs were instructed to vote in favor. MK Dov Hanin of the Israeli-Arab Hadash Party said Labor leader Ehud Barak should "quit the peace camp," in light of his support for the bill. Of the four MKs who voted against, two are Arabs and two are from Kadima.

Top Syrian officials say Israel must agree to give away the Golan as a pre-condition for direct peace talks. The referendum law clashes with this demand.

Israeli and Syrian negotiators met this week, via Turkish mediators, to discuss the future of relations between the two countries.

Syria and Hamas Ties - Strong
Meanwhile, senior Hamas leader Khaled Meshal says he is convinced that even if Syria makes peace with Israel, it would never break off its ties with Hamas. "Irael is trying to push Syria away from its allies and the Palestinian issue," Meshal told Reuters, "but it's just a game."

A recent poll by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research found that 67% of Israelis oppose ceding the Golan Heights to Syria. Only 16% of the public said they support such a position. In addition, 65% of Israelis believe that the Golan Heights are strategically and militarily important to Israel. Only 20% cite its historical connection to Jewish life and history, however, and a meager 7% believe it has value for the Israeli economy and tourist industry.

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