Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin NetanyahuIsrael news photo: Flash 90

At a meeting Thursday with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that if a peace deal was worked out with the Palestinian Authority, Israelis would have a chance to voice their opinions of it in a referendum. “In Hebrew there is a saying, that 'Israel is not Switzerland.'” Netanyahu told his guest. “The point is that we live in very different neighborhoods. Your neighborhood is more calm and less challenging, but I don't know one Israeli who would change his country for any other.”

With that, Netanyahu told Burkhalter, “there are a number of things we could learn from you, and one of them is the referendum.” Unlike Switzerland, however, Israel would conduct a referendum on just one issue – a potential agreement with the PA that would entail Israel surrendering a portion of Judea and Samaria to a PA state.

In response, Burkhalter said that he was happy to be in Israel, and that if Netanyahu visited Switzerland, “to which you are invited, we will be happy to present to you our referendum system, which we have been conducting for many years. It doesn't matter when you come, there will be a referendum going on.”