National referendum – the cement that binds

October 15, 2010

Dr. Aaron Lerner
IMRA Weekly Commentary
14 October ’10
Many in the Israeli Left oppose legislation that would require holding a national referendum to approve future Palestinian-Israeli agreements on the grounds that such agreements couldn’t pass if put to a national vote.
Read that again.
Yes.
That’s right.
They don’t think that the Israeli public, if provided the opportunity to vote directly on an agreement, would support it.
They then argue, along with a small minority from the Right, that Israel is a parliamentary democracy and that the citizens thus should only express their positions via their elected representatives rather via plebiscites.
Now if we were back in 1948 and the country had just been founded then one might accept this line of thinking.
But its 2010 now and the fact of the matter is that we have had a series of major agreements negotiated by prime ministers who accepted terms that they very clearly opposed when they ran for office. And the Knesset majorities that endorsed these agreements relied on parties that were elected on the basis of election platforms that contradicted these deals.
Was that democratic?