Mohammed Ishtayeh, a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
told The Associated Press on Friday that his boss has been warning that ensuring Israel's future as a democracy with a Jewish majority will not be possible if settlement building continues and that Israel could end up with a Jewish minority ruling over an Arab majority.
Ishtayeh warned Israel could end up with "an apartheid style state, similar to the one of former South Africa."
"In the long run it will be against the Israeli interests because ... we Palestinians will be the majority and will struggle for equality," he said, adding that Abbas had met repeated this message in meetings with several Israeli leaders in the past year.
Abbas "told them frankly there are Palestinians who are now calling for the one-state solution, because they no longer see the two-state solution viable," Ishtayeh said.
Abbas's office said the Palestinian president spoke with multiple leaders in 2012 from Israel's centrist opposition, including lawmakers from the Labor, Kadima and Meretz
parties, along with mayors, university professors and social activists. He said a mayor from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
Likud Party was among them.
Labor parliamentarian Daniel Ben-Simon told the AP he met with Abbas in Ramallah recently and was warned that time is running out for a two-state solution.
"Abbas said the two state solution benefits both nations but he warned that if there is no two state solution within the next two or three years then it won't be practical anymore," Ben-Simon said. "Abbas told me explicitly ... the idea of a one state solution is escalating among Palestinians."
Palestinian officials have been closely following the Israeli election campaign, fearing Netanyahu's ambitious plans for settlement construction over the next four years could prove lethal to their dreams of a state, Ishtayeh said. More than 500,000 Israelis already live in settlements that dot the West Bank and ring east Jerusalem, the Palestinians' hoped-for capital.
Some in Abbas' circle are holding out hope that President Barack Obama
will re-engage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and, freed from domestic electoral considerations in his second term, get tougher with Netanyahu on settlements. Another aide, Nabil Shaath, suggested Europe is ready to jump in with its own peace plan if Washington is not.
But short of trying to rally international opinion, it seems Abbas can do little if Netanyahu wins Tuesday.
"We believe the two-state solution is still possible, but Netanyahu and his current and upcoming coalition are killing this solution, they...will be intensifying the buildings in the settlements, and they have no peace platform," Ishtayeh said.
The conflict with the Palestinians has largely been missing from Israeli political discourse this campaign season in Israel. The centrist Labor
Party, which led peace talks with the Palestinians in the past, has shifted almost exclusively to domestic concerns, such as growing income gaps.
The Americans "keep talking about negotiations and the need to restart the negotiations," Shaath said. "But what is needed is for the US to pressure Israel to stop settlement activities and to go to real negotiations, to reach an agreement within six months."
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