Netanyahu's referendum cop-outbrought for a referendum before the country.
Any future agreement with the Palestinians will be brought to the country in the form of a referendum, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the outset of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, just hours after finishing a six-hour late-night meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
This was Netanyahu's third meeting with Kerry since he arrived Thursday afternoon. Generally promises of a referendum are made to neutralize a political crisis by assuring ministers opposed that they need not bolt the government over the issue because the public will ultimately decide.On the one hand, it would be absurd for Israel to make any kind of deal without a referendum. As I noted here,
With all that Israelis supposedly 'want' a 'two-state solution,' when you get specific, very few actually are willing to pay the price that 'everyone knows' we would pay - which is not enough to satisfy the 'Palestinians' anyway.So you really can't make a 'peace deal' without a referendum. And yet... The key to a referendum is phrasing the question. Who will phrase it? What will it say? What kind of disclosure will the public be given before it votes? Will there be secret annexes? Who will be eligible to vote? What consequences will there if the referendum doesn't pass? What kind of pressure will be placed on Israelis to say yes?
Saying that we could vote out the government if it made a peace deal Israelis didn't like is meaningless; it would be shutting the barn door after the cow has escaped.
And calling Israel's government representative is questionable at best and farcical at worst, given that you can only vote for a party into whose slate you have no input.
What could go wrong?