For years, right-wing circles have tried to derail diplomatic steps taken by Israeli governments by, among other things, drafting laws that predicate territorial concession upon an absolute Knesset majority or a referendum. On Monday the government joined forces with the most right-wing parliament ever witnessed in the history of the state, for the purpose of handcuffing the political leadership's moves in the peace process.
Labor Party ministers, who were absent when the vote was taken, along with Minister Shalom Simhon who supported the law, effectively promoted a grave result. At a time when the hearts of many Israeli citizens, as well as those of the state's best friends around the world, are filled with doubts about the level of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's commitment to the two-state solution, his office turned into a lobby in support of a law formulated by his party's hawkish wing.
The law's supporters claim that a referendum is a legitimate democratic instrument utilized by many enlightened countries in order to involve the citizenry in important decisions. In actual fact, the vast majority of referenda relate to domestic issues. In our case, the public is being given veto power over crucial decisions on foreign policy and security issues. These decisions are destined to influence the fates of many people who live under Israeli occupation. Any reasonable person knows that reapportioning sovereignty in Jerusalem is a necessary condition for a peace arrangement with the Palestinians.
The new law is another act of expectoration smack in the face of the international community. It casts a long shadow over Israel's commitment to United Nations resolutions, and even to international agreements to which the state is signed. Like all acts of diplomacy with neighboring Arab countries, negotiations with the Palestinians are based on UN resolutions 242 and 338, which require Israeli withdrawal from territories conquered in 1967. In the road map and Annapolis declaration frameworks, Israel obligated itself to undertake negotiations that will "end the occupation that began in the year 1967."
Up to the present day, no country has recognized unilateral Israeli decisions to impose its law and administrative authority on lands annexed to West Jerusalem, as well as the territories of the Golan Heights. It remains only to hope that the new law will face the test of public and legal scrutiny, and be erased from the country's legal corpus.
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