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Palestinians angry over Israeli referendum

Saeb Erekat, top Palestinian spokesman, tells the press that he will not be a minister in the new Palestinian government outside Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia office in Ramallah, West Bank, February 24, 2005. (UPI Photo/Debbie Hill)
Saeb Erekat, top Palestinian spokesman, tells the press that he will not be a minister in the new Palestinian government outside Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia office in Ramallah, West Bank, February 24, 2005. (UPI Photo/Debbie Hill) | License Photo

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A senior Palestinian official blasted Israel for passing a bill requiring a majority vote in the Knesset or a national referendum ahead of any land withdrawal.

Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said the decision proves Israel does not want real peace, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency said.

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Late Monday night, the Knesset passed the National Referendum Law in a 65-33 vote, that will require either a majority vote in the Knesset or a national referendum if a decision is made to hand over annexed territories in east Jerusalem or the Golan Heights in any future peace deals, The Jerusalem Post said.

Any such deal would within 180 days be subjected to a national referendum run by the Central Elections Committee, the newspaper said.

"There is a clear and absolute obligation on Israel to withdraw not only from east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but from all territories that it has occupied since 1967. Ending the occupation of our land is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum," Erekat told the news agency.

Erekat accused Israel of attempting to hide its oppression of the Palestinian people, by using democracy as an excuse. "Ending the occupation and freeing the Palestinian people would be the purest expression of democratic values. The international community's answer to this bill should be a worldwide recognition of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital," he told the agency.

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