Netanyahu announced yesterday that any deal reached with the Palestinians that involved territorial concessions would have to be put up to referendum. In other words, every citizen of Israel gets to vote on whether they give back any land. At first glance, this seems to make sense. It is their country and I would expect any country giving back land to discuss it with their citizens. Here’s the catch: the settlements and pieces of land confiscated since 1967 are considered illegal under international law. And any land concessions we’d be talking about are these very settlements. So are we supposed to trust that settlers will think “Oh sure, I only came here as a joke. I can leave at any time.” Of course not. Settlers are aggressive and land hungry and you can bet they won’t be voting to give up the land they have carved out of Palestinian villages. Where would the fun be in that? They can’t burn Palestinian olive trees or shoot their livestock or harass the civilians. That would just be messing up their whole lifestyle.
So, in conclusion, no referendum on land concessions is going to pass. What these negotiations are for Netanyahu then are a big, fun, humiliating game. We’ll just have to hope that by some miracle enough citizens living inside Israel proper will know about the truth of settlements in order to outnumber the settler votes on the referendum. Inshallah.