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Golan Referendum Explored As Debate over Future Heats Up

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Israel’s Justice Ministry has appointed a team of lawmakers to prepare a draft bill for a national referendum on withdrawing from the Golan Heights.

Israeli leaders have pledged that a referendum would be presented to the Israeli public prior to embarking on any withdrawal from the Golan as part of an eventual peace deal with Syria.

Because no referendum has been held in Israel before, the lawyers have to determine the legal basis for calling a referendum. They are also studying past referendums in Switzerland and Scandinavia, according to the Israel daily Ha’aretz.

A senior legal source told Ha’aretz that the lawyers would also determine whether the referendum should focus solely on the question of a Golan withdrawal or on the entire peace agreement with Syria.

The preparatory moves come as senior Israeli and Syrian military officers are planning to resume talks in Washington in June on security arrangements that will form part of an eventual Israeli-Syrian peace deal.

The latest developments, as well as recent comments by Israeli leaders stressing that any agreement with Syria would require territorial concessions on the Golan, has renewed concern among Golan residents as to what their future holds.

Ha’aretz reported Tuesday that hundreds of Golan residents have already begun looking into what form of compensation they would receive if and when they are forced to give up their homes.

Among the possibilities that have been raised were financial compensation based on each family’s needs, relocation to another community and relocation of entire communities to an alternate location in another part of the country, Ha’aretz reported.

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