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Opinion

Israel's settlement push kills two-state solution, leaving Palestinians few options

Israel's settlement construction in the E1 corridor and East Jerusalem sends a clear message. Unless President Obama stands up to Israel, he and Benjamin Netanyahu should not be surprised if Palestinians charge them with the death of the two-state solution and seek other paths.

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My response, and that of thousands of Palestinians, has been active nonviolent resistance to highlight for the world the injustices we face. The UN bid was nothing but the mildest possible form of peaceful diplomatic resistance. During the last few weeks in both Gaza and the West Bank, the Israeli government, with what amounts to the implicit support of the United States, has sent one message: It understands and respects only the language of force and violence.

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What is the lesson being drawn by Palestinians? Israel has largely rejected or ignored diplomacy, has violently suppressed nonviolent resistance, but has made minor concessions to violence (as seen in the cease-fire agreement with Hamas over the recent conflict in Gaza). Many Palestinians drew the same conclusions in 2000 when Israel withdrew from Lebanon.

Of course, a peaceful solution will be one that guarantees security for both Israel and the Palestinians. And the best Palestinian option for long-term peace and a two-state solution remains nonviolence. This approach should include an international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and Israeli companies, intended to prove to Israelis that subjugation of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has real consequences.

I have repeatedly warned of the window closing on the two-state solution. With its latest settlement actions Israel has effectively announced that its government has no interest in the two-state solution. Palestinians of my generation – and many younger Palestinians – will be reevaluating our options. We simply will not accept being permanently relegated to isolated territories and subjected to a system that Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many other moral and legal authorities acknowledge to be apartheid.

Our struggle is rapidly changing. Calls for a “one-state solution” – one democratic state with equal rights for all Israelis and Palestinians, regardless of religion or ethnicity – will only increase in the months ahead. One person, one vote will be the new rallying cry for many Palestinians.

Effective punitive actions are needed if Israel is to reverse its present course. If the US does not take this action soon, the West should not be surprised to find an increasing number of Palestinians concluding that the two-state solution has died on President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's watch.

Mustafa Barghouthi, a doctor and member of the Palestinian Parliament, is secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party.

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