‘US shouldn’t push peace talks,’ says leftist MK

‘US shouldn’t push peace talks,’ says leftist MK

Merav Michaeli argues Israelis ‘need to want to reach an agreement’; says pressure would only deepen mistrust between sides

A dovish Israeli opposition lawmaker says the US should not force new talks with the Palestinians because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not sincere about signing a peace deal.

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Labor Party, says President Barack Obama should “do nothing” to jump-start peace negotiations, because they would be endless and would only deepen mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Israelis need to want to reach an agreement,” Michaeli told the Foreign Press Association on Monday. “They need to do it on their own.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah in recent weeks in an effort to revive talks.

Netanyahu on Monday defended the idea of a national referendum on any peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, fending off challenges from within his faction.

“I support the referendum for the simple reason that it’s a very important issue,” Netanyahu told members of Likud-Beytenu at the faction’s weekly meeting. “I don’t think a diplomatic agreement can be decided by an arbitrary majority.”

Coalition chair Yariv Levin told the assembled lawmakers that the final draft of a referendum bill had been finalized. The proposed legislation would be presented in the Knesset plenum, where it would “garner a large majority” of supporters, he predicted.

Michaeli’s boss, opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) expressed her objection to a referendum.

Israel is a representative democracy, in which “we go to vote once in four years, so that our leader can make difficult decisions regarding our future,” she said at a Labor faction meeting.

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