A multi-party bill designed to make it harder for the government to cede the Golan Heights to Syria received an initial promise of 61 signatures Monday even before it was filed by MK Eliyahu Gabbi (NU-NRP). Sixty of those parliamentarians, including coalition minister and Shas party leader Eli Yishai, have already signed a petition in support of the bill on Monday. The 61st MK has promised to sign it Tuesday morning, at which point Gabbi intends to submit it to the Knesset.
While 61 signatures are required to pass the bill, Gabbi did not need that many names to file the legislation. But he gathered them nonetheless as a show of strength both in support of the legislation and against any governmental steps to return the Golan to Syria.
The proposed law would require a two-thirds parliamentary majority - 80 MKs - in order to approve any concessions on the Golan Heights. At present, the Golan could be given away with only a majority of votes.
Among those who have signed the anti-Golan withdrawal bill are Labor MK Yoram Marciano, Kadima MKs Ronit Tirosh, David Tal, Marina Solodkin, Tzahi Hanegbi, Otniel Schneller and Ze'ev Elkin. In addition, members of Likud, Shas, Israel Beiteinu, the National Union-National Religious Party and the Gil Pensioners Party, as well as its breakaway faction, have signed on.
To emphasize their opposition to the Golan withdrawal, almost 30 parliamentarians attended the first meeting of the newly convened pro-Golan lobby, which was held in the Knesset. The vast majority of those present were members of right-wing opposition parties, including Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu. But the meeting drew a number of coalition members such as Marciano, the lone Labor signer on Gabbai's proposed bill. "I came here to support the Golan. I signed onto [Gabbi's] bill," said Marciano. "I have signed onto your fight. I say "no" to returning the Golan."
Elkin, who lives in the West Bank and is among the more right-wing members of his party, said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lacks Kadima support for the measure. "There is no support for territorial concessions in the Golan, not in [Olmert's] party, not in the government and not in this Knesset." He said giving up the Golan is not part of the Kadima party platform and so there is no mandate to act on it. During the last elections, Kadima promised the people in the Golan to support them and secured many votes there as a result, including in Katzrin in the Golan, where Kadima won a majority of support.
Looks like negotiations with the Syrians are set to get a whole more challenging.