Israel's Shimon Peres calls for referendum on any peace deal
( Reuters ) - Israel's President Shimon Peres said on Sunday any peace deal with the Palestinians should be put to a vote in the Jewish state either through a referendum or elections.
Israel and the Palestinians re-launched peace talks after a seven-year hiatus at a U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November.
Both Israel and the Palestinians agreed to try and reach a deal on Palestinian statehood before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office in a year.
"I propose either a referendum or elections but this should be at the end of negotiations," Peres told Reuters on the sidelines of Israel's annual Herzliya security and policy conference which held its opening session in parliament.
Peres, who holds the largely ceremonial position, said the government, as well as Israel's opposition parties in parliament, needed to "put together its position so the people can decide."
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government faces stiff opposition to this peace drive from right-wing members of the 120-member parliament. A key coalition partner quit his cabinet last week in protest over the talks.
Asked if a referendum could potentially weaken Olmert, Peres said: "I think if he (Olmert) comes up with a plan it would bolster him rather than make things more difficult for him."
Israel has never held a referendum, which would require a change in the state's basic laws.