A referendum among the public would be seen as a final endorsement of any peace treaty signed with Palestine

The Israeli government approved a bill on Sunday to submit any peace treaty with the Palestinians to a referendum, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

“Any agreement which may be reached in negotiations will be put to a referendum,” it quoted him as saying. “It is important that on such historic decisions every citizen should vote directly on an issue deciding the country’s future.”

A Palestinian official told AFP on Saturday that a US..-brokered renewal of peace talks, stalled since September 2010, would open in Washington on Tuesday. There has so far been no official confirmation.

A cabinet briefing paper said the government saw the referendum bill as “urgent and important” and said it would be asking parliament to fast-track its passage into law.

If adopted, a referendum would be a final endorsement of a treaty after ratification by the government and parliament.

The draft is seen as a gesture to rightwing ministers apprehensive of concessions that could be demanded of Israel in the talks.

It would oblige a referendum in cases where territory over which Israel claims sovereignty is ceded in a peace agreement or by a cabinet decision.

That would include any part of mainly-Arab east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed.AFP