Following a marathon third meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that any possible peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would need to be approved by the Israeli people, according to a government release.
The call which implies that the Prime Minister would insist on a national referendum before approving any potential deal, was made in remarks at the start of the government’s weekly cabinet meeting Sunday. “I think, that it is necessary that any agreement, if it is achieved, be submitted to the people for a decision,” said Netanyahu.
The Prime Minister also stressed that while Israel is willing to begin negotiations immediately, and without preconditions, his government would not be making any compromises on security issues.
“Israel is ready to begin negotiations without delay, without pre-conditions. We are not putting up any impediments on the resumption of the permanent talks and a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians. There are things that we will strongly insist on in the talks themselves, especially security. We will not compromise on security and there will be no agreement that will endanger Israelis’ security,” he said.
The Prime Minister also informed that the meeting between his team and Kerry ran right through the night. “I held a third meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry last night until the early morning, along with my colleagues on the negotiating team,” he informed.
Following four days of meetings in Ramallah and Jerusalem Kerry had hopeful remarks of his own as he wrapped up his fifth visit to the region since coming to office earlier this year.
“We started with huge gaps and we have narrowed them. There are a few details, but I am sure we are on the right track. The sides believe it is possible. In the end of the day, it is up to them… The effort put in by both sides indicated to me that they are serious,” he said according to the Associated Press.
Kerry repeated his oft stated warning that time for negotiations to reach a successful conclusion is limited. “We have no time. Time threatens the situation on the ground. It enables distrust and hostile elements interfere. Ultimately, it allows cynicism to seep in and the window of opportunity to close,” he warned.
Previous reports have indicated that Kerry’s efforts have seen little concrete progress because Palestinian Authority chairman Abbas is insisting on two preconditions before joining talks with Israel: a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, and the release of Palestinian convicts who were arrested by Israel prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords. Netanyahu has expressed his willingness to enter talks without preconditions.