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October 09, 2002

Palestinians leaders looking at new tactic: Israel citizenship

Palestinian leaders frustrated over the stalemated peace process warned the Bush administration this week that they are contemplating a radical and explosive new tactic: dropping their longstanding demand for an independent Palestinian state and instead seeking full citizenship within Israel.

Such a move, broached by a leading Palestinian reformer and his delegation during meetings with senior Bush administration officials on Monday and Tuesday, would be the diplomatic equivalent of using a population bomb against Israel. Demographic trends indicate the number of Palestinians will exceed Jewish Israelis within a decade, meaning that Israel could not grant all Palestinians citizenship without jeopardizing its identity as a Jewish state.

But a Palestinian official asserted that Israel's continuing expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas, as well as the Israeli military re-occupation of most of the West Bank and Gaza, is destroying the viability of any future Palestinian state, thus compelling Palestinians to pursue other avenues to achieve their rights and alleviate the burdens of Israeli checkpoints and curfews.

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