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Israeli voters to get a say on land pullbacks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Knesset approved a bill requiring a national referendum on pullbacks from territories under Israel’s control.

The bill passed on its second and third readings late Monday night covers eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which were annexed by Israel, and land swaps from within Israel’s 1967 borders, but not the West Bank. It will make it more difficult for a prime minister to make territorial concessions in future negotiations by requiring a Knesset supermajority — at least two-thirds of the 120 lawmakers — to approve the concessions or approval by a national referendum overseen by the Central Elections Committee within 180 days.

Sixty-five lawmakers voted in favor of the measure and 33 opposed, with the remaining absent or abstaining.

"The Israeli public is involved, aware and responsible, and I trust that on the day of decision it will support an agreement that answers to Israel’s national interests and security needs," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the bill’s passage.

In a statement the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the new law "constitutes a complete disregard for international law and the demands of the international community that considers East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan occupied Arab territories, and has decried the annexation of the Golan and East Jerusalem as null and void."

"The Syrian Arab Republic considers this Israeli procedure as directed to those who are still under the delusion that the current Israeli government seeks peace and, on this basis, continue to shower Israel with rewards."

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