Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom said Friday that no Israeli prime minister would be able to implement a peace agreement with the Palestinians if a referendum on the issue showed that a majority of Israelis supported such a deal and that outcome had been decided by non-Jewish citizens of the state.

Speaking to Israel Radio, the former foreign and finance minister said that the definition of what constitutes a majority in such a referendum should be determined in advance, as it would complicate matters if the outcome of the vote ran contrary to the wishes of the majority of Israel's Jewish citizens.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has backed the proposal for a referendum on a peace deal, which is set to be voted upon next week. Netanyahu's key coalition partner, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, had threatened to withdraw his party's support for the new budget should the government decide against holding a national vote on the terms of a prospective peace agreement.

The notion of a referendum on any peace deal that involves a land swap is not a new one, and has been touted in relation to a potential agreement with Syria that would see the return of the Golan Heights. The latest push comes in the wake of US Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement last week that Israeli and Palestinian officials are laying the groundwork for a renewal of negotiations. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat are expected to arrive in Washington DC in the coming days for discussions. 

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