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Israel's new referendum law stirs controversy

11-25-2010 10:11 BJT

by Adam Gonn

JERUSALEM, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- By 63 votes in favor and 35 against, the 120 members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, voted in favor of a new pullout referendum law earlier this week.

According to the law, any withdrawal needs to win the approval of at least 80 Knesset members or it will be put to a national referendum. The new law applies to the territory annexed by Israel in the aftermath of the 1967 war, namely East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, regarded by the international community as occupied lands.

While Israel defines Jerusalem as its "eternal and indivisible" capital, the Palestinians see the eastern part of the city as the future capital of their independent state that would also include the rest of the West Bank and Gaza.

Analysts told Xinhua Wednesday that, while initially the law was designed to hinder peace, it is not set in stone and in the future it could be revoked.


The idea of a law requiring a referendum before any withdrawal is not new in Israel. A law already exists that demands a referendum before any departure from the Golan Heights. It was adopted during the 1990s when Israel was negotiating with Syria.

But the new addition which applies to Jerusalem makes the law more complicated than the previous one.

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