Weekly Commentary: National referendum - preserve the social contract (IMRA-INDEPENDENT MEDIA REVIEW ANALYSIS) Aaron Lerner Date: 27 January 2005)
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Let´s make this clear:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon brought his Likud party a landslide
an election campaign that focused on one issue - unilateral
Sharon explicitly and emphatically campaigned against unilateral
Retreat supporters can roll their eyes and repeat a thousand times
Sharon´s "painful concession for peace" actually meant "unilateral
withdrawal" - but it was a lie the first time they made the assertion
is a lie today - no matter which Likud MK or minister repeats it.
The hundreds of thousands of citizens who voted Likud because Sharon
ridiculed his rival´s proposal for unilateral withdrawal weren´t
misunderstood. They were betrayed.
And again - let´s make this clear: the idea of holding a national
referendum on such a critical and momentous move as the uprooting of
thousands of Israelis from their communities and retreating to allow
formation of some kind of sovereign Palestinian entity within arms
scores of communities and strategic targets is neither new or novel.
Over a decade ago Yitzhak Rabin endorsed the national referendum
when he committed to having a plebiscite on any withdrawal from the
and the prime ministers who followed him repeated that commitment.
national referendum proposal was embraced by many of the same
who today claim that a plebiscite is out of the question.
Retreat supporter can threaten a thousand times that if a national
referendum is held on the "disengagement" that it would open the
for referendums on various controversial proposals that enjoy the
the majority of Israelis but could never make it through the give and
dynamics of the parliamentary system. But these retreat supporters
damn well that a plebiscite could only be held for a proposal that
was approved by the Knesset.
A national referendum on disengagement would not bypass the Knesset.
would simply serve to assure, after the Knesset has endorsed such a
momentous and irreversible program, that the will of the People
the program is truly honored.
But what about the polls? The "will of the People" isn´t expressed by
random sample of 510 adult Israelis hurriedly answering a pollster
TV is blasting and the kids are asking for dinner. It is citizens
the polling stations at the culmination of a great national debate.
Israel had just such a great national debate on unilateral withdrawal
2003 elections and roundly rejected the disengagement supporting
Denying the People the opportunity to express its will today would
represents such a gross and cynical betrayal of the social compact
binds us together that I shudder to think of the consequences.
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