Israel premier fast-tracking peace referendum bill

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JERUSALEM — Israel’s premier announced Monday he is fast-tracking legislation that would allow him to put any peace deal with the Palestinians to a national referendum — an apparent attempt to silence hard-liners in his party and coalition government.

Benjamin Netanyahu spoke three days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said progress has been made toward a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, stalled for five years.

Kerry has invited Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington for preliminary talks, though wide gaps remain on the framework of the actual negotiations.

Netanyahu said Monday that a referendum is necessary to prevent a rift in Israeli society.

Polls have suggested a majority of Israelis support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but many groups are vehemently opposed.

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