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Israeli PM says any future peace agreement to be put to referendum


08:26, July 01, 2013

JERUSALEM, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Sunday that any future agreement with Palestinians will be put for a public vote.

"I think it is necessary that any peace agreement with the Palestinians will be brought to a national referendum," Netanyahu said Sunday morning at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu, who has just finished his six-hour overnight talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, chilled the enthusiasm regarding a possible breakthrough in the hope of reviving the stalled peace negotiations.

"Israel is not the one blocking peace talks," Netanyahu said. " We are ready to start negotiations immediately without preconditions."

"There are certain issues on which we will stand strong, among those is security," Netanyahu added.

Kerry, who is on a visit to the region since Thursday, the fifth time in three months, is pushing both sides to resume peace talks which broke down in 2010 amid Israel's construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The top U.S. diplomat had been travelling back and forth between Jerusalem and Amman, meeting with Israeli and Palestinians officials, and trying to get Israel to agree on Palestinian demands, including the release of Palestinian prisoners, freeze of the settlement construction, and the recognition of the West Bank' s boundary before its occupation by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war as the basis for borders of a future Palestinian state.

He was scheduled to give a press conference prior to leaving the region on Sunday to announce a summit to be attended by officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and the United States.

However, it seems there are still disputes. Kerry, who met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday morning to try to make one final effort in bringing both sides closer to some progress, is set to give a short statement before leaving to Asia at 13:00 local time (1100 GMT) at the Ben Gurion airport.

On Saturday, an Israeli diplomatic source said the meeting "may lead to a breakthrough," but the optimism was downplayed on Sunday morning, as the Walla! news website said Netanyahu did not agree on the release of some Palestinian prisoners who committed terrorist attacks that left many casualties.

The Ynet news website, on the other hand, reported that the biggest obstacle in the advancement of the talks on the Israeli side is the request to freeze construction in the settlements.

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