Although no one knows for sure when a referendum on the peace
agreement with Syria might be held, Israel's Central Election
Committee has already begun making preparations for it.
According to a report in Ha'aretz, the referendum will
cost about NIS 150 million, assuming that it is held 90 days
after the Knesset approves a diplomatic agreement with Syria.
If the government wants to push up the date, however, as
Justice Minister Yossi Beilin would like, it will cost
Squeezing the schedule to 30 or even 45 days after the
Knesset confirmation would require a different logistic
organization, which would increase the cost of the referendum
by NIS 20 million each year that the organization is prepared
for it, because the election committee must be in constant
readiness to hold the referendum at any time.
This figure only represents the direct cost, in addition to
which one must add the cost to the economy of the lost day of
work, the production of radio and television ads and state
funding for the parties.
The election committee document emphasizes that if the law
stipulates that the referendum shall be held within 90 days
after the Knesset approves a peace agreement, offices must be
available for the Central Election Committee and the regional
In addition, ballot boxes, privacy screens and voting
envelopes must be purchased and a wide variety of computer
operations must be performed, such as checking the list of
absentee ballots and calculating voting results.
Even if it is decided to hold the referendum 90 days after
Knesset approval, however, it is doubtful that this could be
The head of elections in the Interior Ministry, attorney Ehud
Shilat, points out that he needs at least 93 days in order to
update the voter lists. In the last elections, there were
4,285,428 eligible voters, and by the referendum date a few
thousand people will have been added.
According to the Central Election Committee, before the
referendum can be held, about 10,000 clerks must be recruited
to serve as ballot committee secretaries and about 12,000
other voting officials must be hired. There is also the need
for instructors to explain procedures to the committee
secretaries at least once.
But the election committee cannot begin its preparations
until the Knesset approves the Referendum Law,
Ha'aretz pointed out.