Aiming to calm the complaints of members of the Israeli coalition government opposed to peace treaties, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that any agreement with the Palestinians would need to be put to a national referendum before being enacted.
Referendum bills have been regularly proposed in the Knesset as a way to prevent a peace deal, hamstringing the negotiators by leaving them unable to make any deals on their own until a vote.
Polls have shown a large chunk of Israel’s population ambivalent on the peace process, a position which may give the settlers, who are overwhelmingly opposed to any deal, disproportionate influence in such a vote.
A deal is unlikely at any rate, but Netanyahu’s comments suggest he is still treading into dangerous territory by holding preliminary talks when members of his coalition are openly threatening to withdraw if the peace process begins in earnest.
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