Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he will not ratify any agreement with the Palestinians before it has been subject to a public referendum. He announced this at his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
"Any agreement will be presented to the Israeli people to decide on," he said. "However, Israel will not compromise on its security under any agreement." Commentators suggest that this is the prime minister's way of avoiding the necessity of taking a major decision which goes against his innate principals and those of his coalition partners while giving himself a concessionary veneer to please his Western allies.
"By stressing this concept now, Netanyahu is already shifting the negotiations goal posts before they have even re-started," said MEMO's senior editor, Ibrahim Hewitt. The mantra of Israeli "security" is, he added, a huge red herring. "Israel has a massively well-equipped army, air force and navy," said Hewitt, "and it uses them all frequently against Palestinian civilians, while its settlers gobble up ever more Palestinian land for their illegal settlements. I ask you, in all seriousness, whose security is really being compromised?"
Media reports confirm that US Secretary of State John Kerry is to continue to seek a way to restart peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. He was unable to make a breakthrough during his visit to the region which ended today.