Israeli opposition chief fears binational state (AP) Associated Press) By DAN PERRY JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 04/24/12 12:55 pm ET)
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JERUSALEM – Israel´s new parliamentary opposition leader said Tuesday
that the Jewish state faces the danger of being replaced by a
binational Jewish-Arab entity if it fails to separate itself from the
Former military chief Shaul Mofaz won leadership of the centrist
Kadima Party last month.
"The threat of us losing the Jewish majority and Israel becoming a
binational state is the biggest threat to Israel, and time is working
against us," he told Israel Radio. "The threat of a binational state
that we are bequeathing to our children really keeps me awake at
The Iranian-born Mofaz, in one of his first interviews since winning
the Kadima primary last month, said Israel must resume negotiations
with the Palestinians.
Talks are stalled after the failure of repeated efforts over the past
two decades to reach a deal on carving out a Palestinian state in the
West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in
the 1967 Mideast war.
Mofaz´s comments came a day after former Palestinian Prime Minister
Ahmed Qureia struck a similar theme from the other side of the
Mideast equation, saying the Palestinians might abandon the "two-
state solution" strategy and aim for a single state consisting of
Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza — in which all ethnic and
religious groups had equal status.
In an Associated Press interview Monday, Qureia condemned the
government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for continuing to
settle the occupied West Bank with Jews and blocking Palestinian
access to their hoped-for capital in Jerusalem.
"If this is the policy, I think it is a big lie to talk about the two-
state solution," said Qureia. "They are killing the opportunity of
two-state solution. If it dies ... there are other choices. ... One
state is one of the choices."
The 12 million people who live in Israel plus the Palestinian areas
are roughly equally divided between Arabs and Jews, and the Arab
birthrate is higher. In Israel itself, Jews account for about four-
fifths of its almost 8 million people.
Dovish Israelis have cited the demographic threat for years in
backing an Israeli pullout from Palestinian areas. Israel withdrew
unilaterally from Gaza in 2005, partly because of that issue.
However, two Israeli offers in the last decade for a Palestinian
state in Gaza, most of the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem failed to
produce an accord.
Netanyahu has also recently mentioned the emerging binational reality
as a reason to pursue peace talks. But his views on the terms of a
deal fall far short of meeting the Palestinian demands for a near-
total pullout from the occupied areas.
About 500,000 Jews now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem,
complicating prospects for a clean division.
On Tuesday, Israel´s government legalized three unsanctioned West
Bank settler outposts and was trying to save another, infuriating the
Palestinians even as chief American Mideast envoy David Hale was in
the region laboring to revive peace efforts.
Mofaz said Netanyahu could have reached agreement with the
Palestinians on borders and security, and then built on that to reach
a final deal.
"Our government doesn´t want an agreement and won´t reach an
agreement," he said. (© 2012 The Associated Press 04/24/12)
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