Palestinians Ready to Push for One State
By Mark Lavie
The Palestinian premier said Thursday that if Israel unilaterally imposed a new boundary with Palestinian areas he would respond by pushing for a single Arab-Jewish statea move that could spell disaster for Israel.
A single country including Gaza, the West Bank and Israel would mean that the Jewish state would soon have an Arab majority. That would force Israel to choose between giving Palestinians the right to vote and risk losing the countrys Jewish character, or becoming a minority-ruled country like apartheid South Africa.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned at the end of last year he would order unilateral separation from the Palestinian areas if peace talks do not show progress in the coming months.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia told The Associated Press that such unilateral moves would make the drive for a Palestinian state a meaningless slogan.
If the situation continues as it is now we will go for the one-state solution, he said.
Qureia said the binational state idea is his own idea, not official policy, though he said Palestinians suggested it shortly after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell immediately rejected the idea of a single state on Thursday, saying only a two-country solution to the violence would work.
For years, Israeli doves have cited the demographic issue in their calls for Israel to relinquish control of all or most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a peace treaty.
About 3.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel. About 5.5 million Jews live in Israel.
Associated Press, January 9, 2004