The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved an addition to the so-called Referendum Bill to declare a national holiday should the public be called upon to vote on exchanging Israeli territory for peace.
The change in the law was demanded by Justice Minister Tzipi Livini who, according to Maariv, was concerned voters might be deterred from going to polling stations if they also had to put in a full working day.
The referendum bill is sponsored by Coalition Chair MK Yariv Levin and aims to reinforce an earlier law passed in 2010 that requires the government to obtain a two-thirds Knesset majority or public approval via a referendum in order to sign away any Israeli territory. The new bill aims to make the referendum law a Basic Law that is semi-constitutional, putting it beyond the reach of the Supreme Court, which can in theory strike down any regular law.
“Anchoring a referendum as a basic law is the continuation of the law that was approved in the previous [government] term and strengthens the trend of preserving unity in the people and full public cohesion behind any future decision,” said Levin.
The Knesset approved the first reading of the bill near the end of its summer session, with 66 in favor and 45 against.
The bill covers all of Israel, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem, but does not relate to the West Bank, which was never annexed by Israel.