MKs Prepare Bills Making It Harder to Cede Land

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will tour East Jerusalem today to prepare for the first reading of a bill requiring a two-thirds parliamentary majority to transfer control or authority in the capital.

In another move to reinforce East Jerusalem's status as Israeli territory, the Knesset is expected to vote tomorrow on a bill requiring a referendum before any area of the state is given up, with a focus also on the Golan.

According to the referendum bill, conceding any Israeli sovereign territory would require a referendum, elections or a majority decision of 80 MKs.

Although the bill would be a revolution in Israel's legislative system, few MKs were at the debate, and only four spoke.

Tomorrow's vote on the referendum bill is expected to take place around the time of a no-confidence vote, in which many MKs would be present.

The bill is expected to pass by a large majority, supported by most of the coalition, including Labor and right-wing parties.

Kadima is allowing its MKs to vote their conscience, coalition chair MK Eli Aflalo said Wednesday. Aflalo said he supported the referendum bill and was opposed to withdrawing from the Golan.

The need for a referendum before territory is given up appears in the Golan Law, although legislation requiring a referendum must still be passed.

The referendum bill is moving ahead more quickly than the Jerusalem bill because the former is being discussed in a committee headed by MK David Tal (Kadima), who supports it. The Jerusalem bill is under discussion in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, whose chair, MK Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), opposes it.

Another question is how the two-thirds clause on Jerusalem conforms to the referendum bill. According to that bill, if conceding territory is approved by 80 MKs, no referendum is necessary. If both bills are passed, a situation could be created whereby concessions on Jerusalem are approved by a referendum, but not by a majority of 80 MKs, and therefore would not be valid.