Likud said ready to back bill requiring referendum on any West Bank withdrawal

Legislation proposed by MK Hauser would include settlement territory in law that requires either Knesset super-majority or public vote on dismantling settlements or ceding land

Illustrative: Two Palestinian cars near the Israeli settlement of Efrat in the West Bank on November 24, 2009. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Two Palestinian cars near the Israeli settlement of Efrat in the West Bank on November 24, 2009. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Likud party will give its backing to a bill proposing the holding of a referendum before Israel dismantles any of its West Bank settlements or withdraws from any settlement territory, according to a report Sunday.

The bill was proposed earlier this month by MK Zvi Hauser, of the Derech Eretz party, a member of the coalition.

Likud is now waiting to see whether its unity government coalition partner the Blue and White party will support the measure, the Kan public broadcaster report said.

Knesset Speaker MK Yariv Levin of Likud is said to support the legislation, which would ease its passage through parliament.

Hauser’s bill proposes folding West Bank settlement territory into the existing Basic Law: Referendum, passed in 2014, which requires a super-majority of 80 out of the 120 Knesset lawmakers, or a referendum majority, before the country can relinquish any sovereign territory.

The proposal notes that “from past experience we also learn that a historic decision of this magnitude [giving up territory] inevitably carries far-reaching consequences. All of these require a decision with as broad a national consensus as possible.”

Screen capture from video of Derech Eretz MK Zvi Hauser during a Knesset vote on a bill to push off a deadline for passing the national budget, August 12, 2020. (Knesset channel)

The Kan report came just days after Likud and Blue and White reached an agreement to delay the deadline to pass a national budget by 120 days, preventing new elections for the time being. That was achieved by passing into law another Hauser-proposed bill that put off the deadline until December 23.

Earlier this year Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed to extend Israeli sovereignty to all of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, in accordance with the Trump administration peace proposal unveiled in January.

Such a move would have automatically included the settlement territory in the Basic Law: Referendum. However, a July 1 target date to apply sovereignty passed without the measure being taken, reportedly due to reservations by Washington.

Netanyahu’s backing down from extending sovereignty to part of the West Bank was a key element opening the path to the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which was announced earlier this month.

Palestinians want the West Bank as territory for a future state. Israel’s settlements in the area are considered illegal by the international community. Israel has in the past, of its own accord, removed wildcat settlement outposts set up without official approval.

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