Israeli Public Figures, Former Politicians Call for Referendum on Future of West Bank Territories

Decrying lack of government action on 'most critical issue for Israel,' campaign to push referendum bill, drum up support with public events.

Former Shin Bet chief and minister Ami Ayalon, one of the initiators of a new campaign calling for a referendum on the occupied territories, in a 2008 photo.
Nir Keidar

A group of former government ministers and members of Knesset launched a broad public campaign on Monday, calling for a referendum on the future of the territories as the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War approaches. Several civic organizations, along with intellectual figures and cultural and academic leaders have also joined the initiative.

Those who have signed on include: former Shin Bet security service head and minister Ami Ayalon; former Labor Party chairman Amram Mitzna; former ministers Yuli Tamir, Uzi Baram, Ophir Pines and Michael Melchior; former MKs Daniel Ben-Simon and Tzali Reshef; former Israel Police Major-General Alik Ron; Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. (res.) Giora Inbar; Noa Rotman, granddaughter of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; Geneva Initiative member Shaul Arieli; businessman Orni Petruschka; Gilad Sher, CEO of the Blue and White Future movement; Peace Now director Avi Buskila; and actors Gavri Banai and Ricky Blich.

During the coming year, the group will promote legislation calling for a referendum, while conducting a public campaign and other events.

“Every day our hold on the territories of Judea and Samaria continues brings us closer to the end of Israel as the democratic state of the Jewish people,” said Ayalon, one of the initiative’s organizers.

“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu sees the approaching disaster, but doesn’t have the courage to do anything. Lacking leadership, it is our right and duty as citizens to determine our fate. Only a decision as part of a referendum will give a true expression to the desire of the majority and will enable the continued building of the Zionist enterprise without violence between us,” Ayalon added.

In a letter sent to Netanyahu Sunday, the leaders of the group wrote, “A decision by referendum on the most critical issue for Israel’s future will be a declaration of Israel’s intentions to the world, and will constitute a guideline for Israel’s elected governments to work toward realizing the decision, and until then to take diplomatic steps in all realms, including determining the border and settlement areas, in accordance with the decision made.”