Netanyahu insists on East Jerusalem building, hope fades for two-state solution
Israeli Prime Minister insisted Thursday on continued settlement building in East Jerusalem. Israeli expansion in the contested city is one reason Palestinians are losing hope in the two-state solution.
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“There won’t be any land left for a Palestinian state, except for outside of Jerusalem,” says Hanan. “Wouldn’t it be better for all if they left the Arab sector for the Arabs? Jerusalem for me is like my own son. I can never give it up.”Skip to next paragraph
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Why Palestinians are losing hope for a two-state solution
What Palestinians are giving up, however, is hope for a two-state solution with an Arab capital in East Jerusalem. Palestinian support for the idea dropped to 57 percent in early March from 64 percent in December, according to a poll.
“If a two-state solution means they must split Jerusalem between two states, it’s now become impossible, because the Israelis will never agree to it,” Amori says. He points to the main road, where a longstanding light-rail project is nearing completion. While the train promises better public transport for Arabs, they also see such a massive project connecting East Jerusalem to the rest of the city as one more move on Israel’s part to cement its hold here.
“The Israelis are trying to change the demographics of the city, trying to shift the characteristics of the city towards a more Israeli appearance and content, and to deny the natural expansion of the Arab population in their city,” says Khalil Tafakji, the head of the Arab Studies Society’s mapping department. “That’s what is most problematic about Ramat Shlomo, that it affects the city from the demographic perspective.”
In other words, by the time negotiators start talking about divvying up Jerusalem, Israel will have so many Jewish enclaves inside or abutting Arab areas that it will be impossible to carve out an Arab capital.
Palestinian hopes, it seems, are morphing from statehood to a long-term calculation: If they wait long enough and maintain a higher birthrate than their Jewish neighbors, the demographic balance will tip in their favor. Then Israel will have to choose between a binational democratic state or being ostracized for running an apartheid regime.
“Forget about the Palestinian state,” says Mahmoud. “The only solution now is a one-state solution.”
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