Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett are examining the possibility of introducing a bill stating that any peace treaty with the Palestinians will be brought to a national referendum before being ratified by the Knesset, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.
The initiative was discussed a few days ago during a meeting between the two politicians. Bennett, the leader of the Habayit Hayehudi party, has already started working toward obtaining a majority for the bill in the cabinet, but it appears that without Lapid's support it has no chance of being approved. Lapid did not rule out the idea of a referendum, but said he would consult with other members of his Yesh Atid faction before announcing his final decision on the matter.
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Some Yesh Atid members fear the initiative is an attempt by the Right to undermine efforts to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Bennett, for his part, claims the referendum will prevent a rift in the nation. What is certain is that such a law would allow Bennett to remain in the government in the event that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalizes an agreement with the Palestinians. Otherwise, he would most likely be forced to resign immediately due to pressure from the settler community.
Since the government's inception, Bennett has frequently met with other ministers in an attempt to convince them not to support a two-state solution. "The negotiations with the Palestinians must begin with the people. A Palestinian state, in the current format, will not be established, and if it does it will be a failed and hostile (state)," Bennett said recently.
"It is time to move on to plan b, which will begin with the people and not diplomacy. Real negotiations must start at the bottom," he said.
According to Bennett, the continued rocket attacks have led Israelis to lose all faith in a solution that includes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, so there is no choice but to seek more creative solutions to the Mideast conflict.
Lapid, on the other hand, supports a two-state solution. Once the budget is approved, he plans to take on a more active role in the diplomatic process.
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