JERUSALEM – Israel’s parliament passed a bill Monday that could complicate peace efforts with the Palestinians and Syria by making it very difficult for any government to make territorial withdrawals.
The bill requires a two-thirds Knesset majority to cede land in east Jerusalem to the Palestinians or in the Golan Heights to Syria. Failing that, either withdrawal would become subject to a referendum, and polls show winning public approval would be an uphill battle.
The bill – which passed by a 65-33 majority – will have little impact in the short term, since neither deal seems imminent.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own position seems influenced by his need to appease his voter base while preventing the collapse of the peace process – which would anger the Israeli center, alienate America and risk new violence. On Monday, he voted along with the hard-liners.
“Any peace agreement requires national agreement and the bill promises that,” he said in a statement. “The Israeli public is involved, aware and responsible and I trust that when the day comes it will support a peace agreement that answers the national interests and security needs of the state of Israel.”