Israel parliament to vote on land-for-peace law

Israel Materials 9 December 2009 14:05 (UTC +04:00)

The Israeli parliament was set to vote Wednesday on a bill requiring a referendum to approve a pullout from annexed east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as part of any peace deal, officials said, AFP reported.

The government-backed bill, whose first reading is expected to pass by a large majority on Wednesday, is seen as a boost to those opposing Israel's withdrawal from the occupied Golan Heights under a future peace deal with Syria.

The bill requires that any peace agreement reached between the Israeli government which entails an Israeli withdrawal from annexed territories must first be approved by a 61 MP majority in the 120-member parliament, or Knesset.

If approved in parliament, the agreement will have to be put to a national referendum within 80 days.

The bill pertains to the strategic Golan plateau and east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed, in moves not recognised by the international community.

Syria has repeatedly demanded a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in exchange for pace and the Palestinians want to make east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state.

One of the bill's backers, MP Yariv Levin of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, rejected criticism that the bill sought to impede peace.

"It is only appropriate that fateful and significant questions such as the country's borders should be voted by the widest possible majority and not only in Knesset," he told AFP.