By AMY TEIBEL | AP
Published: Nov 22, 2010 23:22 Updated: Nov 22, 2010 23:33
JERUSALEM: Israel’s Parliament is expected to approve a bill that could sink future peace deals with the Palestinians and Syria.
With Mideast peacemaking already at a standstill, the proposed legislation would make it much harder for the government to cede disputed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — captured territories that would be central to any future accord.
If it is passed, the new law would require 80 of 120 lawmakers to approve any withdrawal from those two areas. Without that super majority, the government would need to win approval in a binding national referendum.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet supports the bill.
“There is no doubt that this is a dramatic piece of legislation for the people of Israel and the state of Israel,” bill sponsor Yariv Levin of Netanyahu’s Likud Party said before the deliberations began Monday. “The law determines that peace must be made between peoples and not just between leaders.”
Palestinians demand sovereignty over East Jerusalem in any peace deal, while Syria insists on reasserting control over the Golan as its price for making peace.
If a peace deal is reached with either the Palestinians or Syria, the proposed legislation could make it much harder for Israel to relinquish control because now, at least, broad segments of the public oppose any withdrawal from these territories.
Israel seized both areas in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed them, and Netanyahu has given little indication that he is prepared to give up either territory.
The international community does not recognize Israel’s annexations of either territory. The referendum bill would not apply to the West Bank, also captured in 1967, because Israel has not annexed it.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Israel cannot avoid giving up captured land if it wants to make peace.
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