Referendum bill

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Referendum bill

The Law on Administrative and Judicial Arrangements (annulment of the application of  law, jurisdiction and administration) (amendment) 2010, is one of the most important laws in the Israeli law book,  The legislation of this law in the 18th Knesset was led by the Chair of the Knesset House Committee, MK Yariv Levin.  The law received final approval on the Second and Third Readings in the Knesset on 22.11.2010 following ten years of attempts.  The approved law regulates how a referendum is to be carried out in the event of a proposal to annul the application of law, jurisdiction and administration by the State of Israel over its sovereign territory.  The new law enforces the principle that any decision regarding the handing over of sovereign territory of the State of Israel must be submitted to the whole nation for a final decision through the democratic process of a referendum.

In 1999 the Knesset set the principle that a referendum shall be held on the question of handing over sovereign territory. However, this instruction was not to become valid until a law was passed regulating the holding of a referendum.  For ten years following this, there were many attempts to pass such a law and thus allow the order regarding the obligation to hold a referendum to come into effect.

These attempts failed.  During the Seventeenth Knesset the bill was passed on the First Reading but the process leading to the Second and Third Readings was not completed.  Soon after the convening of the Eighteenth Knesset, MK Yariv Levine was elected to head a joint committee of the House Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to continue the legislative process for that bill.  MK Levin then led the procedure of applying the law that enables the legislative process for a bill to be carried over to the new Knesset, thus in effect endorsing the first reading.  He then chaired the Joint Committee’s preparation of the bill for the Second and Third Readings in the 18th Knesset.  Following long debates the Joint Committee approved the bill and it was brought to the Knesset Plenum and passed on the Second and Third Readings. This followed a period of several months, at the end of which MK Levine, with the active support of Coalition Chair, MK Ze’ev Elkin, gained Government support for the bill.

It should be noted that more than 61 MKs supported the bill both on the First Reading in the 17th Knesset  and at all votes in the 18th Knesset regarding the carryover bill, and on the 3rd and 4th readings.  This ensured that the Bill would receive broad consent and even a larger majority than that required for legislation of most Basic Laws.


MK Yariv Levin: “This law ensures that such critical and irreversible decisions as giving up parts of the homeland on which have been applied sovereignty, shall not be taken through political deals or by drumming up support in the Knesset on irrelevant issues, as has unfortunately happened in the past.  It is no secret that I totally believe in our full right to all of our Land and that I hope with all my heart that no Israeli government will seek the agreement of the nation to giving up sovereign territory.  This law expresses a very important principle – that real peace is peace between nations and not merely an agreement signed between leaders.  In this context we have had bitter disappointments in the past, and if we apply to ourselves the principle that the nation must give its approval to any peace settlement, this will provide the basis for a demand that this principle should also be applied by our neighbours.  I am sure that passing the decision-making on to the nation is the best way of protecting Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  I trust this nation not to support the relinquishing of areas of the homeland and specifically those over which Israeli sovereignty has been applied."