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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Haaretz calls Knesset majority 'extreme right'

In an editorial in Thursday's editions, Haaretz, Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' Daily, blasts Monday night's 65-33 passage of a law that would require either an 80-member majority or an up or down referendum in order for the government to forfeit land in Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. Haaretz accuses 'Israel's leaders' of 'handcuffing themselves to the extreme Right' (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The law's supporters claim that a referendum is a legitimate democratic instrument utilized by many enlightened countries in order to involve the citizenry in important decisions. In actual fact, the vast majority of referenda relate to domestic issues. In our case, the public is being given veto power over crucial decisions on foreign policy and security issues. These decisions are destined to influence the fates of many people who live under Israeli occupation. Any reasonable person knows that reapportioning sovereignty in Jerusalem is a necessary condition for a peace arrangement with the Palestinians.
Haaretz is dead wrong, and the fact that the law passed by a nearly 2-1 margin (aside from several MK's, including from the Left wing Labor party, who, as noted, could not bring themselves to vote against it) shows how out of touch Haaretz is with Israel's political reality in November 2010.

One need look no further than the United States, where treaties that are often of far less import to the United States' continued existence may only be enacted with the advise and consent of two thirds of the United States Senate. Not coincidentally, the referendum law exempts any agreement that is enacted with the approval of 80 members of the Knesset, which is two thirds of the Knesset. That kind of majority is attainable for a deal that the public deems fair and reasonable (whether or not the public is correct). Both the Camp David treaty with Egypt and Israel's 1994 peace treaty with Jordan garnered more than two thirds of the Knesset's membership.

As far as 'reapportioning sovereignty' in Jerusalem goes, at the moment, the 'Palestinians' are unwilling to accept any deal that does not include expelling the 180,000 Jews who live beyond the 1949 armistice line but within the Jerusalem city limits from their homes. As one of those Jews, I do not agree to have my fate decided based on 'coalition discipline,' by a Knesset where I cannot point to anyone who is specifically tasked with representing and being sympathetic to my interests, and by individual Knesset members who may be susceptible to bribery with fancy cars and lofty-sounding positions. Sadly, Israelis no longer feel that they can trust the Knesset to look out for their best interests - and with good reason.

So, no, the Knesset is not handcuffing itself to the 'extreme right.' It is expressing the will of the people (for once). If Haaretz chooses to characterize mainstream Israel as 'extreme right,' that is their problem, not ours.

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At 2:00 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Exactly - and every country, including the late Soviet Union, used referendum to gauge public opinion on vitally important issues. Haaretz seems to think the Israeli pubic is too stupid to decide the future of their own country - and we can see their hostility towards democracy on full display. This is exactly why the Israeli Left has been pushed towards being a marginal force in Israeli society - its that contemptuous of public opinion and seeks to rely on its control of the media and the power institutions than seek the judgment of the people for its policies.


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