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Abbas aide 'warns of apartheid' if Netanyahu re-elected

Jan. 19, 2013 9:53 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 20, 2013 9:18 A.M.)
NEW YORK (Ma'an) -- An aide to President Abbas said Friday that the Holy Land will end up with an apartheid system if Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

Muhammed Ishtayeh, a senior Fatah official, told AP that Abbas has warned that continued settlement building will make the two state solution impossible, leading to "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 added.

Abbas has repeated this message during several meetings with Israeli leaders in the past year, Ishtayeh said, adding that the president told Israeli politicians that some Palestinians "are now calling for the one-state solution, because they no longer see the two-state solution viable."

The PA believes that the two state solution is possible, Ishtayeh said, 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."

Settlements under Netanyahu

Recent opinion polls show Netanyahu is still set to win this week's election, and the Likud leader openly defied international calls to halt settlement building during media interviews on Friday.

"The days of bulldozers uprooting Jews are behind us, not ahead of us," Netanyahu told Maariv newspaper. "I do not volunteer concessions. Our record shows that. We have not uprooted any settlement, we made settlements stronger."

Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said Wednesday that approval for construction in 2012 far exceeded by a "record level" the counts for the previous two years.

Netanyahu's settlement policies "disclose a clear intention to use settlements to systematically undermine and render impossible a realistic, viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Peace Now said.

Just two months ago, pro-settler hardliners swept the primaries in an internal Likud vote that tossed out some of Netanyahu's closest allies, seen by some party members as lagging in their support of settlements.

One Likud candidate likely to win a Knesset seat is far-right settler Moshe Feiglin, who said earlier this month that "every Arab family in Judea and Samaria can be given an incentive of half a million dollars to encourage their emigration to a place where they will find a better future."

All Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law.

Reuters contributed to this report
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