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Israel Gives Initial Approval to Land Referendum

The proposal would require Israeli governments to call a referendum on any peace deal involving a withdrawal from territory that Israel considers to be under its full sovereignty.

West Bank
West Bank

Israel's parliament has given preliminary approval to a bill requiring a national referendum on ceding annexed territory as part of any peace deal.

The bill passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament Wednesday by a vote of 68 to 22. It must pass two further readings before it becomes law.

The proposal would require Israeli governments to call a referendum on any peace deal involving a withdrawal from territory that Israel considers to be under its full sovereignty.

The legislation would apply to the occupied Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and later annexed in moves not recognized internationally.

Under the bill, no referendum would be required if a land-for-peace deal wins the support of two-thirds of the 120-seat parliament.

Syria has demanded a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, while the Palestinians want to make east Jerusalem the capital of a future state.

Critics of the bill say it puts unnecessary constraints on the ability of Israeli governments to carry out land-for-peace agreements.

The legislation would not apply to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, land claimed by the Palestinians but never annexed by Israel

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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